ALBANY — It’s obviously going to take some time for the local economic picture to get better.
The Georgia Department of Labor announced Thursday that the preliminary unemployment rate in metro Albany rose to 9.9 percent in December, up three-tenths of a percentage point from 9.6 percent in November.
The jobless rate in metro Albany in December a year ago was 10.5 percent. The rate increased because there were fewer employed residents and the number of jobs declined by 300, mostly in private service-related industries.
At the same time, the preliminary unemployment rate in the Southwest Georgia area rose to 9.5 percent in December, up from 9.3 percent in November. The jobless rate in the region for December 2010 was 10.3 percent.
“Looking at the local employment data, it looks like economic activity is fairly stagnant, which contrasts with the improvement that we saw earlier in the year,” said Aaron Johnson, assistant professor of economics at Darton College. “Overall, we have been burdened with a state economy that has been the only state to not have grown jobs since the recession. I think most of that can be attributed to the housing problems associated with Atlanta, which is an economic driver for the rest of Georgia. Foreclosure rates are among the highest in the nation, and that is holding down economic activity not only in Albany and Georgia but most of the Southeast region.
“One positive sign that could eventually lead to better results in the job market is the improvement that we are seeing in manufacturing activity on the national level. Hopefully, that will eventually spill toward new opportunities later in the year.”
By metropolitan area, Athens and Warner Robins had the lowest jobless rates at 7.3 percent, while metro Dalton had the highest at 12.1 percent. By region, the Georgia Mountains area had the lowest rate at 8.4 percent, while the Heart of Georgia-Altamaha region near Dublin recorded the highest rate at 11.3 percent.
A county-by-county breakdown of unemployment rates from December throughout the state showed Dougherty to be at 11 percent, Lee to be at 7.3 percent, Worth to be at 9.5 percent, Baker to be at 8.4 percent and Terrell to be at 10.9 percent.
Meanwhile, Georgia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined in December for the third straight month, dropping to 9.7 percent. The state jobless rate was 10.4 percent at the same time the previous year.
The state rate declined because 11,500 Georgians went back to work in December. Statewide, there were 600 new construction jobs, and manufacturing grew by 400 jobs. Job gains also came in information services as well as trade and transportation.