by Steve Wilson


Georgia’s regional commissions reported higher unemployment in January but the labor force grew in all but one of the state’s regions, according to numbers released on Thursday.

The Georgia Department of Labor says it is an annual trend for unadjusted unemployment rates to increase in January after the end of the holiday season.

“Despite a nationwide pandemic and challenging economic times, continued investments in Georgia’s labor force and thriving business community have kept our economy strong,” said Georgia Labor Commissioner Bruce Thompson. “As labor commissioner, it is my No. 1 priority to help more Georgians get back to work and fill the jobs that our businesses need.”

The Central Savannah River Regional Commission reported a smaller labor force and its unemployment rate (4.2%) was up 0.2% from January 2022. Its labor force was down by 2,554 from the previous year to 197,010. Initial unemployment claims were up by 872 (72%) from the year before.

The Atlanta Regional Commission reported a 3.2% unemployment rate (down 0.1%) from the year prior and a labor force that increased by 34,295 to an all-time high of 2,566,596. Initial claims were up by 24% over 2022 and increased by 49% compared to the previous month.

Also reporting an all-time high with its labor force was the Three Rivers Regional Commission, which represents Butts, Carroll, Coweta, Heard, Lamar, Meriwether, Pike, Spalding, Troup and Upson counties. The commission reported a labor force of 257,681, up 1,960 from the year before. Unemployment rate in the region was 3.3%, down from the 3.4% reported in January 2022.

The Northeast Georgia Regional Commission reported a record labor force of 325,845 and an unemployment rate of 3.1%, the same rate as the year before. Initial claims were up 21% compared with the year prior (243 to 1,430). Initial claims were up by 6,190 (183%) to 9,572.

Also recording a record labor force was the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission, with its labor force increasing by 5,255 to 432,744. Its unemployment rate was up to 3.6% compared with 3.4% in January 2022.

The Coastal Georgia Regional Commission had a 3.5% unemployment rate, up from 3.2% in January 2022. Initial claims increased by 16% (1,379 claims, up 189) compared with the year before and the region’s labor force grew by 934 to 344,469.

The Georgia Mountains Regional Commission reported a slight increase in its unemployment rate from 2.9% in January 2022 to 3% this January. The labor force increased by 3,575 to 243,417 and initial claims increased by 56% compared to the year before (1,315 claims, up 472).

Reporting a slight decrease in its unemployment rate was the Middle Georgia Regional Commission at 3.7%, but the labor force shrank compared to January 2022, down to 217,315. Initial unemployment claims were up by 18% (191 to 1,227) compared to the year prior.

The River Valley Regional Commission had a slight decrease in its unemployment rate in January (4.4% vs. 4.5% in January 2022) and its labor force increased by 1,336 to 145,728. Initial claims increased by 375 (25%) to 1,877.

The Southern Georgia Regional Commission had a 0.2% increase in its unemployment rate compared to the year prior (3.5%) with its labor force shrinking by 1,582 to 179,726. Initial claims jumped by 1,006 (112%) to 1,906 as compared with January 2022.

Also showing an unemployment rate decrease was the Southwest Georgia Regional Commission. Its unemployment rate shrunk from 3.9% in January 2022 to 3.7%. The labor force there in Baker, Calhoun, Colquitt, Decatur, Dougherty, Early, Grady, Lee, Miller, Mitchell, Seminole, Terrell, Thomas and Worth counties shrunk by 2,640 to 145,880 and initial claims only increased by 5%.

Data from the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank shows a 3.4% unemployment rate for January, which increased by 0.2% in February.

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Steve Wilson has been an award-winning writer and editor for nearly 20 years at newspapers in Georgia, Florida and Mississippi and is a U.S. Coast Guard veteran and University of Alabama graduate. Wilson is a regional editor for The Center Square. 
Photo “Now Hiring” by Ernie Journeys.