First time jobless claims in Chattooga County were down by 20 over the month of December according to numbers released yesterday by the Georgia Department of Labor.  In December of 2008, there were 191 first time jobless claims; in January the number is 171.

The bad news is first time jobless claims are up 103% over this time last year when there were 84 claims.  The state wide unemployment rate currently stands at 8.1% but that number will be updated next week and State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond is warning that those numbers will climb.

Yesterday the Department of Labor said that Northwest Georgia was the hardest hit area of the state for job losses, with Dalton leading the state in unemployment claims.