Employers in metro Atlanta laid off more workers in January, including many hired for the Christmas holiday season, driving up the area’s unemployment rate to 8.7 percent, from 8.4 percent in December, the labor department said Thursday.
The number of jobs in metro Atlanta declined by 29,100, or 1.2 percent, from December to January, the labor department said.
Initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits jumped by 9,751, or 44.5 percent, from December to January, primarily because of seasonal layoffs. Most of the claims were filed in construction, manufacturing, trade, transportation and warehousing, administrative and support services, and accommodations and food services.
But the number of initial claims for benefits is down slightly from January 2012, when the jobless rate was 9.4 percent. Metro Atlanta started the year with 63,400 more jobs — a 2.8 percent increase — than it had in January 2012.
Over the past year, employment increased in professional and business services — by 18,000 jobs; trade, transportation, and warehousing — 13,600; leisure and hospitality — 12,000; and healthcare and social assistance — 10,700.
For the core metro Atlanta counties, Gwinnett had the lowest jobless rate at 7.6 percent. It was followed by Cobb at 7.8 percent, DeKalb (9.1 percent), Fulton (9.4 percent) and Clayton (11.0 percent).
Metro Athens had Georgia’s lowest area jobless rate at 6.6 percent, while metro Dalton and the Heart of Georgia-Altamaha region tied for the highest at 11.9 percent.
Last week, the labor department said Georgia’s unemployment rate for January was 8.7 percent, unchanged from December.
The jobless rate for both the state and metro Atlanta remains considerably above the national rate, currently 7.7 percent for February. The state’s rate for February will be released next week, while the metro Atlanta rate for February is expected in two weeks.