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State unemployment rate rises sharply
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The Georgia Department of Labor reported Thursday the state’s unemployment rate rose to 5.2 percent in January, up 0.6 percent from 4.6 percent in December. The January increase brings the rise over the past two months to a full percentage point.

Also, from December to January, Gainesville lost 1,400 jobs, or 1.8 percent, from 77,900 to 76,500, according to the Georgia Department of Labor. The last time Georgia experienced a 1 percent increase in the state unemployment rate during the November to January time period was 16 years ago when the rate jumped from 4.3 percent in November of 1991 to 5.3 percent in January of 1992.

"I continue to be concerned by weakness in Georgia’s labor market," said State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond. "Clearly, the credit crisis and slumping housing sector are negatively impacting the job market. We’re monitoring the situation closely and are prepared to respond."

The current state rate is 0.2 percent lower than the U.S. unadjusted rate of 5.4 percent.

The state’s rate increased from December to January because the number of people unemployed increased by 27,044, while the number employed declined by 43,975. This increase in the rate was due mainly to across-the-board job losses in manufacturing, construction, trade and services.

From December to January, preliminary data show Georgia lost 53,300 payroll jobs, a 1.3 percent decline.