AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - Augusta's unemployment rate decreased to 7.2 percent in December, down from 7.3 percent in November, according to the Georgia Department of Labor.
That's also down from 8.6 percent in December a year ago.
Georgia DOL officials said the rate dropped primarily because 1,609 more Augusta residents were employed in December, mostly due to seasonal hiring in retail trade, transportation and warehousing.
While the unemployment rate declined, the number of jobs in metro Augusta increased by 500, or 0.2 percent, to 216,900 in December. Most of the gains came in seasonal jobs in trade, transportation and warehousing.
However, the over-the-year job numbers show a loss of 200 jobs, or 0.1 percent, since December 2012, when there were 217,100 jobs. Most of the over-the-year job loss came in professional and business services.
At the same time, the number of new layoffs, represented by initial claims for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits, increased to 2,752, up by 132.6 percent from 1,183 in November.
Claims increased in several sectors, including manufacturing, administrative and support services, accommodations and food services, professional and technical services, and construction. There were 2,125 claims in December 2012.
Metro Athens had the lowest area jobless rate at 5.2 percent, while the Heart of Georgia-Altamaha region had the highest at 10.2 percent.
Georgia's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for December was 7.4 percent, down from 7.6 percent in November. The rate was 8.7 percent in December a year ago.