Metro Albany unemployment rate down in January

Slight rise in rate for southwest Georgia

ALBANY — Metro Albany is one of just three metro areas in Georgia to experience a drop in unemployment in January, the Georgia Department of Labor reports.

Metro Albany’s rate dropped from 8.2 percent to 8 percent. That was not the case in Southwest Georgia, where the unemployment rate increased to 7.9 percent in January, up one tenth of a percentage point from 7.8 percent in December.

In addition to the monthly decline, Albany’s January rate was also down compared to the 9.7 percent reported for January of 2013. Southwest Georgia’s rate was lower than the 9.3 percent reported for January 2013.

Albany’s monthly rate decline is primarily attributed to a decrease in initial unemployment claims filed in January, when 895 claims were filed, as compared to the 1505 claims filed in December. The majority of that decrease was seen in the areas of manufacturing, administrative and support services, accommodations and food services, and construction.

According to John Ard, senior communications officer for the Department of Labor, the decline in claims in the areas of manufacturing and construction could signal a strengthening in those areas of the economy.

“Initial unemployment claims are a leading economic indicator,” said Ard. “The biggest bulk of that decline was found in manufacturing claims. There was a drop in construction too. That is an indicator, only an indicator, that manufacturing and construction is starting to make a comeback.”

Ard also pointed out that the 895 claims filed in January was a decrease of 402 claims, or 31 percent, from the 1,297 claims filed for January of 2013 and that the bulk of that decrease came in those same areas.

While initial claims in metro Albany were down in January, the number of jobs in the area also decreased to 60,700, down 1,400 jobs or 2.3 percent, from 62,100 in December. Most of those losses came in trade, transportation and warehousing, state government and the good producing sector which includes manufacturing and construction. Nearly the same number, 60,600 jobs were reported for the area in January of 2013.

Ard was quick to point out that the job report only reflects payroll jobs for businesses based in metro Albany. The report does not include jobs in Albany not listed on a company’s payroll. Many people, Ard said, could be working on farms or as independent contractors or be self-employed.

In fact, according to DOL labor force estimates, both the civilian labor force totals and the number of residents employed increased from December to January and from January of last year to January 2014.

The DOL reported a civilian labor force in Albany for January of 74,082, an increase of 1,433 from 72,649 in December and an increase of 60 from the 74,022 in January 2013. Additionally there were 68,133 employed residents in January, an increase of 1,406 from December. January’s total was also an increase of 1,297 employed residents from the 66,836 reported in January of last year.

“Overall it’s a good report for Albany,” said Ard. “It’s obvious that people were working. Albany’s one of three metro areas where the rate went down, so it’s good for Albany.”

Southwest Georgia also saw an increase in labor force as that number rose to 162,005 in January, up 5,277 from 171,134 in December. The number of employed residents also increased during that span, from 144,500 in December to 149,231, an increase of 4,731.

From year to year the region saw a decrease in the overall labor force, down 800 from 162,805 in January to 2013, but also showed an increase of 1,556 employed residents, up from 147,675, during that the same time frame.