Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Georgia sees a stagnating job market as it heads into 2023

Georgia’s job market showed signs of stagnation even as the state’s unemployment rate stayed at a low 3.0% in December 2022.

Although Georgia has seen a strong rebound in jobs since the losses in the first half of 2021 due to Covid-related layoffs and shutdowns, much of those gains occurred earlier in the year.

While the unemployment rate has stayed in a narrow range of 2.8 to 3.0% in the second half of the year, the state’s labor force has edged downward. Since June, 32,185 people have left the labor force and so are no longer working or actively seeking work in Georgia.

As a result, the unemployment rate stays low even as the number of workers employed fell by 34,312.

The state’s employment-population ratio in December came in at 59.7, the lowest recorded for any month in 2022 and just above the 59.6 recorded in December 2021.

Private sector employment

Georgia Private Sector Jobs, One-month Change, 2021-2022

Seasonally adjusted data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

The state’s private sector recorded a 4,800 job increase in December, a marked improvement over the 3,500-job loss recorded in the October-November two-month period, but behind all previous months in 2022.

For the second half of 2022, the private sector in the state added 40,800 jobs, the slowest growth since 2019.

Even in 2021, when the state was hit with Covid-related layoffs and shutdowns, second half growth was sufficiently robust to offset some of the losses in the first half of the year.

Private sector employment makes up nearly 86% of the state’s nonfarm jobs, so the state’s economy is dependent on private sector job growth. When private sector jobs slow down, it affects Georgia’s overall economy.

It is tempting to say that the state’s job market slowdown can be attributed to running out of workers, but the drop in the state’s labor force makes that statement questionable.  

It appears that potential employees are choosing to stay out of the job market for a variety of reasons which may include issues related to childcare, the level of wages offered by employers, and a portion of older workers who lack the incentive to seek jobs and choose retirement instead.

Monday, January 23, 2023

Brewing Union of Georgia files petition with NLRB to gain recognition for Creature Comforts employee union

The Brewing Union of Georgia (BUG) has filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region 10, Atlanta, to be recognized as representing employees of Creature Comforts Brewing Company in Athens, Georgia.

Included among the 73 employees who would be covered by the union are:

All full-time and regular part-time Creature Comforts employees working in the following departments/classifications: Southern Mill Warehouse which include Research Manager, Quality Lab Specialist, App Development Manager, Sustainability Manager, Cellar Specialist, Brewing Specialist, Safety & Compliance Manager, Packaging Maintenance & Training Manager, Packaging Specialist, Maintenance Specialist, Warehouse Assistant, and Packaging Shift Lead, and Snow Tire Warehouse which include Brewing Lead, Packaging Lead, Production Assistants, Taproom Staff, Taproom Operations Specialist, Taproom Shift Lead, and Taproom Assistant Manager. 

Excluded by the union would be all office employees, confidential employees, guards, and supervisors as defined by the Act.

According to The Red & Black newspaper, BUG intends to become a fully independent union for breweries across the state. Various community leaders and union members delivered the letter requesting voluntary recognition on Jan. 13 to management requesting a response in three days, the release said. On Jan. 16, management said they would consider the request. Since the company did not immediately agree to recognition, BUG proceeded with filing for the election. 

Case details

Creature Comforts Brewing Company, LLC

Case Number: 10-RC-310377

Date Filed: 01/17/2023

Status: Open

Employer Legal Representative: Littler, Mendelson, P.C., Atlanta, Georgia

Representation Election Process

The National Labor Relations Act grants employees the right to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing and to refrain from such activity. A party may file an RC petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to conduct a secret ballot election to determine whether a representative will represent, or continue to represent, a unit of employees. An RC petition is generally filed by a union that desires to be certified as the bargaining representative. 

NLRB Election Process Chart

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Georgia state economist predicts slowdown in state government revenue

The state’s chief economist injected a note of caution Tuesday as the General Assembly began reviewing Gov. Brian Kemp’s $32.5 billion fiscal 2024 budget request. 

More than half of the state’s record $6.6 billion surplus was built on a huge increase in capital gains tax payments not likely to be repeated, Jeffrey Dorfman told members of the Georgia House and Senate Appropriations committees at the start of three days of hearings on Kemp’s spending recommendations.

Typically volatile corporate income tax payments also are uncertain, with only 2% of Georgia businesses accounting for 96% of the record $2.5 billion the state collected in corporate income taxes last year, Dorfman said. 

“If they don’t make as much money, that spigot shuts off very quickly,” he said. 

The expected loss of capital gains taxes due to last year’s drop in the stock market and likely decrease of corporate income taxes are largely responsible for Dorfman setting a revenue estimate for the current fiscal year that is significantly below what the state brought in last year. 

Still, Georgia’s economy remains strong just more than halfway through fiscal 2023, which ends June 30, Dorfman told the lawmakers. 

Individual Georgians are paying more in income taxes due to a combination of pay raises and inflation driving up prices, Dorfman said. 

Inflation also is responsible for boosting the state’s revenue outlook by increasing sales tax payments, he said. 

Georgians are still saving 2% to 4% of their incomes, even though post-pandemic spending is on the rise, Dorfman said. 

“So far, the consumer is not running out of money,” he said. “The consumer is still handling their debt quite well.” 

Dorfman said Georgia’s workforce has risen by 167,000 jobs despite the impacts the pandemic had on the economy. 

“The [job] sectors that have grown the most pay more [in taxes],” he said. “The Georgia employment picture still looks strong.” 

While Dorfman is projecting capital gains taxes to all but disappear and corporate sales tax payments to shrink this year and next, he said he expects a 3.5% increase in personal income taxes during the current fiscal year and a slight rise in sales taxes. 

Despite the anticipated hit on revenue from declining corporate taxes, the huge surplus means the state can afford the additional tax relief Gov. Brian Kemp promised on the campaign trail last year and again in his inaugural address last week. 

Kemp repeated that pledge Tuesday in brief remarks at the beginning of Tuesday’s hearing on a remote feed from Davos, Switzerland, where he is appearing at the annual World Economic Forum. Kemp is calling for an additional $1 billion state income tax rebate on top of the rebate the General Assembly approved last year, as well as $1.1 billion in property tax relief. 

“Building a bigger and better Georgia doesn’t come from building up our government,” he said. “It comes from building up our citizens.” 

Kemp said he is taking advantage of his trip to Europe to invite overseas “job creators” to visit Georgia. He said he’s looking to build on record-breaking corporate investment in the Peach State during the last two years. 

This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.


Friday, January 20, 2023

Georgia new labor commissioner promises changes

The new head of the Georgia Department of Labor vowed Wednesday to overhaul an agency deluged with unemployment claims during the pandemic that resulted in a barrage of complaints over processing delays.

“The Department of Labor has had an image problem,” newly elected Commissioner of Labor Bruce Thompson told members of the state House and Senate Appropriations committees just six days after taking the oath of office. “We seek to be able to change that.”

Thompson is beginning his new job just two weeks after the Georgia Office of Inspector General reported nearly 300 state employees erroneously received unemployment benefits totaling $6.7 million during the last two pandemic years, averaging $23,700 per worker.

The new commissioner said he has just hired a former prosecutor to get to the bottom of allegations of fraud within the agency as well as a legislative liaison to help Georgia lawmakers handle complaints they have been getting from constituents whose unemployment claims have been delayed.

Thompson pledged to eliminate the department’s backlog of about 59,000 pending unemployment claims by August.

Thompson said he also has found many of the agency’s career centers across the state in a state of disrepair, including extensive water damage.

“We’ve seen all kinds of evidence of neglect,” he said. “That stops now.”Thompson also complained of recent reductions that cut the agency’s budget by about 70%. As a result, five career centers have been closed and six more are due to be shut down, he said.

One source of funding the labor department has relied upon has gone away, Thompson said. An administrative fee the agency charges businesses, which collected $10.6 million during the last fiscal year, was allowed to expire last year. Thompson said he will ask the General Assembly to reinstate the fee.

Thompson’s reform plans drew bipartisan support from lawmakers who heard his presentation Wednesday.

“I agree with your sense of urgency … after what we have been through with this department and what our constituents have been through,” said state Sen. Nan Orrock, D-Atlanta.

This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation. See capitol-beat.org

Georgia job market unchanged between October and November 2022 but most categories saw declines from 2021

 Georgia unemployment rate, Jan. 2021 - Nov. 2022

New data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that Georgia’s job market had no statistically significant changes between October and November 2022, while most categories saw small declines compared to November 2021.

There were 404,000 job openings in the state in November 2022, virtually the same number as in October although 11,000 fewer than in November 2021.

Hires in the state totaled 229,000 in November, a drop of 19,000 from a year ago.

The state recorded 242,000 total separations, which includes both voluntary and involuntary decisions to leave jobs, a drop of 43,000 from the previous November reporting period.

Within the total separations category, the number of people quitting their jobs totaled 173,000 compared to 206,000 reported for the same month last year. 

Layoffs and discharges equaled 58,000 in November, an increase of 3,000 over the previous year.

The ratio of unemployed persons per job openings in the state remained at 0.4, the same level reached in November 2021.

The overall result appears to be a leveling off of both job opportunities and job leavings even as the state continues to record a 3.0% unemployment rate compared to a 3.3% rate recorded in November 2021.

Monday, January 16, 2023

Brewing Union of Georgia: New craft beer union created in Athens Georgia

 Employees of Creature Comforts Brewing Company have announced they are forming an independent union meant to represent brewery workers in Georgia.


“We are forming a new independent union, we're calling it the Brewing Union of Georgia,” said Katie Britton, marketing manager of Creature Comforts, as reported by The Red & Black. 

Britton said that the union was formed to try and spread the positive workplace culture and core values of Creature Comforts to other breweries in the state and improve conditions in the field. They thanked Creature Comforts, committee members from the Economic Justice Coalition and the community for their continued support. 

“Creature’s a big part of this community, and this community is a really big part of Creature's,” Britton said. “We all believe that this is a really good step for everyone in our community and beyond.” 

Although Georgia is not usually thought of as a highly unionized state, the Brewing Union of Georgia would not be the first union to represent workers employed in the brewery trade in the state. 

Workers at the MillerCoors plant in Albany, Georgia, have long been represented by the International Association of Machinists. 

The challenge will be attracting craft brewery workers to see the benefits of unionization, as most craft breweries tend to have relatively few employees when compared to the larger brewers such as MillerCoors and Budweiser so organizing the scattered craft brewery workers can be difficult and expensive. 

The Red & Black quotes Erin Stacer as stating more about the reason for forming a union: “In Athens… wages don't match the cost of living. And people are working, but they can't live here. That's what the importance of being able to organize, being able to have leverage in your workplace means.”

Sunday, January 15, 2023

UGA Georgia 2023 Economic Outlook sees a short and mild recession

 2023 UGA Georgia Economic Outlook

The Dean for the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia, Ben Ayers, says even though the state may see a recession this year, a increase in economic development will make the recession mild and short.

“We are fortunate to be a state that is very business friendly,” Ayers said. “We’ve got a great group of economic professionals, and for the ninth year in a row, we’ve been ranked the best state in which to do business, and that translates to great economic development projects across our state.”

Ayers predicts an increase in economic development will lead more people to move to Georgia for jobs.

“Thousands of jobs will be created based on economic development projects,” he said.  “You’ll have more people moving to our state, and that will have a ripple effect throughout our state’s economy.”

Although jobs are being created throughout Georgia, there is a labor shortage in Macon-Bibb County.

Dr. Greg George, the Director of the Center for Economic Analysis at Middle Georgia State University, says companies will have to look outside Middle Georgia to recruit workers in order to ease the labor shortage.

“The problem has been really within the past year is the labor shortage, so jobs aren’t the problem, labor is kind of the problem,” he said. “So we do need to figure out how to get more labor resources in town. “Casting a white net is my best advice. You’re going to have to look outside the Middle Georgia region and recruit people here and come up with good packages to entice people to come to this area.”

Economists say they’re already seeing signs of recession in the housing market, but they say we will see an easing of high housing prices going into next year.

Information provided via 41 WMGT 

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