ALBANY, Ga. -- The Georgia Department of Labor announced Thursday that the preliminary unemployment rate in metro Albany rose to 10.1 percent in January, up three-tenths of a percentage point from a revised 9.8 percent in December.
The jobless rate in metro Albany in January a year ago was 10.6 percent.
At the same time, the preliminary unemployment rate in Southwest Georgia rose to 9.6 percent in January, up from a revised 9.3 percent in December. The region's jobless rate at the same time last year was 10.3 percent.
The rate increased because there were layoffs in construction, manufacturing and wholesale and retail trade, officials with the Labor Department said.
By metro area, Athens had the lowest rate at 7.1 percent, while metro Dalton had the highest at 12.7 percent. By region, the Georgia Mountains area had the lowest rate at 8.2 percent, while the Heart of Georgia-Altamaha region had the highest unemployment rate at 11.6 percent.
A county-by-county breakdown of jobless rates for January showed Dougherty at 11.1 percent, Lee at 7.8 percent, Worth at 9 percent, Terrell at 11.5 percent and Baker at 8.5 percent.
Aaron Johnson, assistant professor of economics at Darton College, advises not to put much emphasis on unemployment rate changes from December to January due to seasonal employment trends.
"It should be noted that all local unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted, but the state unemployment rate is seasonally adjusted," Johnson said. "Therefore, that explains why the unemployment rate not only increased in the Albany metro area, but also in every metro area across Georgia. Despite this occurrence, the unemployment rate in Georgia actually declined and that's because the official state figure takes out the seasonal volatility from the employment numbers.
"However, a closer review of the data shows that the employment picture has slowed down relative to the rest of the state, especially when you look at our labor force numbers over the past year which declined more than most of the state. When there is a decline in the labor force, then that is a sign that economic activity has slowed down. While that is not a positive sign, our labor market can change quickly with the right economic development project."
Johnson also noted that prospects here are typically tied to what is happening in Atlanta, an area which appears to be emerging from an extended slump, he said.
"As their prospects rise, they will start to attract more interest in private investors across the country," he said. "When that occurs, our area needs to capitalize on this and ensure that out of state investors are aware of opportunities available in Southwest Georgia."
Meanwhile, Georgia's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined for the sixth month in a row to 9.2 percent in January, the lowest rate since March 2009 when it was 9.1 percent.
This reflects a decline of two-tenths of a percentage point from a revised 9.4 percent in December.
The state's jobless rate was 10.1 percent in January a year ago. The rate went down because about 13,000 more Georgians were employed in January than in December, Labor Department officials said Thursday.