Unemployment up 0.3 percent: ‘Seasonal bump’ to blame as holiday workers depart
by Michelle Babcock
March 14, 2014 04:00 AM | 5879 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cherokee County’s unemployment rate rose to 6 percent in January from 5.7 percent in December as seasonal jobs were lost after the holidays, local experts said.

Cherokee’s unemployment rate rose three-tenths of a point from December to January, and Hamilton Bank chairman Dennis Burnette said he doesn’t see the drop as a trend but rather as a “seasonal bump.”

“There is increased hiring during the Christmas season, and I’m sure the staffing levels have decreased after the season is over,” Burnette explained. “I do not see the increase as any sort of

indication of a trend. I think that the unemployment level will likely remain at the current level over the upcoming months.”

Pam Carnes, president and CEO of the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce, said residents don’t need to be concerned about an unemployment increase of three-tenths of a point from December to January.

“It’s people who were employed during the holidays, and now those positions aren’t viable anymore,” Carnes agreed with Burnette. “Those jobs have gone away now, and unfortunately those people are unemployed.”

Carnes said it may be a challenge for those seasonal employees to find full-time work but reiterated there’s always a slight increase in unemployment as seasonal workers are let go.

“Hopefully they can find viable employment, but that three-tenths of a point is not detrimental. I don’t think we should be concerned,” she said. “As we continue to see the economy improve, as we’re seeing an upswing in our office, we would like to think that would continue and they’ll be able to find employment sooner, rather than later.”

Burnette said he saw no indications of future problems, and he didn’t expect more of an increase in unemployment in the near future.

“I think we’ve seen the worst of unemployment already,” he said. “But, I don’t necessarily believe that there’ll be any significant increase in the number of jobs to bring the unemployment rate down.”

In January 2013, Cherokee recorded 6,488 people who were unemployed, or 5.7 percent, according to seasonally unadjusted figures released Thursday by the Georgia Department of Labor. Last month, Cherokee had 6,805 people unemployed, or 6 percent.

Forsyth had the lowest unemployment rate in the area at 5.5 percent, with Cherokee County following in second place.

Nearby counties’ unemployment rates for January are: Bartow at 7.3 percent, Cobb at 6.4 percent, DeKalb at 7.6 percent, Douglas at 7.6 percent, Fulton at 7.9 percent, Forsyth at 5.5 percent and Paulding at 6.6 percent.

Statewide, the January unemployment rate was 7.3 percent, down from 7.4 percent in December. In January 2012, the statewide unemployment rate was 8.6 percent.

In metro Atlanta, unemployment rose from 6.8 percent in December to 7.2 percent. In January 2013, the metro Atlanta unemployment rate was 8.8 percent.

The number of initial claims for unemployment insurance rose in Cherokee, from 595 in December to 670 in January, an increase of 12.6 percent or 75 claims.

Over the past year, the number of initial claims in Cherokee dropped by 23.9 percent, or 210 less claims than in January 2012. In January 2013, there were 880 initial claims in Cherokee.

Director of Communications for the Georgia Department of Labor Sam Hall said even though the number of jobs declined from December to January, over the past year since January 2013, the number of jobs increased by 58,600 jobs.

Hall echoed local experts, saying the rise in unemployment in metro Atlanta was also because of the loss of seasonal jobs.

“The rate rose primarily because Atlanta lost 39,700 mostly seasonal jobs, as the total number of jobs dipped to 2,409,600 from 2,449,300 in December,” he added in a news release. “Although the metro area lost jobs in January, the loss was considerably less than the average January loss of 44,500 jobs for the last five years.”

Layoffs happened in many sectors in January, primarily in trade, transportation and warehousing (12,500 layoffs) and business and professional services (9,800 layoffs).

In Cherokee, the number of eligible workers fell from 114,701 in December to 113,864 in January, the seasonally unadjusted figures show.

The number of eligible workers is determined by adding the number of people employed and those actively seeking employment.

Of the eligible workers in Cherokee, 107,059 were employed and 6,805 were unemployed in January, compared to 108,213 employed and 6,488 unemployed in December.

In metro Atlanta, employers added jobs in multiple industries over the last year, with the majority of additions coming in the industries of trade, transportation and warehousing (15,300 jobs); leisure and hospitality (13,500 jobs); professional and business services (12,400 jobs); construction (6,800 jobs); education and health care (6,000 jobs); and financial services (4,100 jobs). The figures also showed a loss of 1,600 government jobs over the year.

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