ST. CLOUD - The number of people filing unemployment claims in the St. Cloud metro area jumped in January, compared to the month before.

The Department of Employment and Economic Development says our local unemployment rate is now at 7.3 percent, up from 5.7 percent in December.  The figure is also much higher compared to last January, which was at 6.6 percent.

St. Cloud State University Economist King Banaian says it's normal for the rate to go up in January, but this spike is larger than usual. He says, "we saw this spike around the state in other cities, but it was smaller in places like Mankato, Minneapolis and St. Paul." Banaian says, "it's a little disconcerting, a little bit of bad news for us.  But normal month-to-month swings could turn it around again next month."

Our local unemployment rate is now much higher than the statewide rate of 5.6 percent, and we're close to the national rate of 7.9 percent.