Originally created 01/25/02

Local jobless rate decreases slightly



Augusta-Aiken's unemployment rate dropped half a point in December to 4.5 percent, but not because of improving economic conditions, state labor officials said Thursday.

The drop was in part caused by unemployment claims falling from 10,579 in November to 9,444 in December, while total civilian employment fell from 211,104 to 209,141 during the same period.

Many of those exiting the job market were secondary wage earners, such as students or spouses, the Labor Department said.

Also, several companies had temporary layoffs that ended in December. Jobs were added in government and several service-related industries.

The Augusta-Aiken area includes Richmond, Columbia and Burke counties in Georgia and Aiken and Edgefield counties in South Carolina.

December unemployment percentages for Georgia's other major metro areas, followed by their November rates, are: Albany, 4.9, unchanged; Athens, 2.8, up from 2.7; Atlanta, 4.1, up from 3.9; Columbus, 4.5, down from 5.0; Macon, 3.3, down from 3.4; Savannah, 3.2, up from 3.0.

Reach John Bankston at (706) 823-3352 or john.banks@augustachronicle.com.