Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Job openings and quit numbers turn positive in June for Georgia as layoffs and discharges decline

The number of job openings posted in Georgia rebounded in June, rising by 51,000, according to new information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number of job openings for May was revised up to 376,000 from a preliminary count of 367,000

Job openings totaled 427,000 compared to 368,000 recorded a year ago, an increase of 9.3%. The job openings rate rose to 8.2 in June, up from a revised 7.3 in May.

The number of hires were statistically unchanged over the month and over the past year.

While the total number of separations were virtually unchanged over the month, the number of people choosing to leave their positions rose while the number of layoffs and discharges declined.

Quits rose by 27,000 in June to a total of 211,000, the same number of quits posted in June of 2021. The quit rate in June came in at 4.4, up from 3.8 in May but below the 4.6 rate recorded the prior year.

Layoffs and discharges declined by 24,000 in June to a level of 42,000 in the month. The layoffs and discharges rate dropped from 1.4 in May to 0.9 in June. The number of layoffs and discharges occurring over the month was the lowest level recorded since May 2019.

Over the past 12 months, the number of layoffs and discharges in the state have declined by 21,000.

The increase in job openings can be taken as a proxy for increasing business optimism, while the number of quits can be a proxy for increased optimism among employees who feel more confident about finding another position. 

Companies seeing better business conditions in the state along with an increasing number of employees leaving their jobs voluntarily is resulting in less need for layoffs and discharges and generally reflect more robust economic conditions in Georgia. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Atlanta area inflation in July for key items remains a problem for consumers


Costs for food at home and rent remained elevated in July, although gas costs declined after rising in the previous two months.

While the All-Items index in Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers, is published only for even numbered months, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does produce a few numbers for the Atlanta area on a monthly basis and these are now available for July 2022.

In July, costs for food at home rose 1.9%, the seventh consecutive month that this index has posted a monthly increase of greater than one percent. Over the first seven months of 2022, costs for food at home have increased 11.3%, while over the past 12 months, the index has risen 13.0%, the highest 12-month increase since BLS began posting monthly changes in 1999.

Rent of primary residence increased 1.0% in July, a smaller monthly increase than was posted in May and June of this year. So far in 2022, rent costs have risen 6.5% and have increased 12.8% over the past 12 months. As with food at home, this is the highest 12-month increase since BLS began posting monthly changes in 1999.

Gasoline costs dropped 6.6% in July, after rising in May and June. Despite last month’s decline, gasoline prices have increased 30.3% since the beginning of 2022 and have risen 39.6% over the past 12 months. This increase has occurred despite the governor’s order since April to suspend the collection of motor fuel and diesel fuel taxes. Without this suspension, retail gasoline costs would have been even higher.

National comparisons

Comparing increases in consumer costs for the nation with those in the Atlanta area, costs for food at home have risen at approximately the same rate nationally as in the Atlanta area, while the Atlanta area continues to see faster rising rents. Nationally, rent of primary residence has increased 6.3%, less than half of the rate of increase recorded in the Atlanta area.

Gasoline costs have risen at a slightly slower rate in the Atlanta area than for the nation, which posted in July a 12-month increase of 44.0%. While a few states, including Connecticut, New York, and Maryland, have suspended their state motor fuel taxes, which offsets a portion of the cost increase for consumers and subsequently lowers the index for gasoline (all types), most states continue to collect their tax.

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Atlanta area’s employment and unemployment numbers still look favorable in June

 Atlanta area labor market indicators, January 2019 - June 2022

The Atlanta area’s unemployment rate rose to 3.2% in June as growth in the number of unemployed exceeded growth in the number of employed people.

Overall, the area’s labor force grew by 20,431 in June, a much larger number than recorded in any month since June2021. Of those additions to the labor force, 2,798 people were added to the employment rolls while 17,633 people joined the ranks of unemployed.

The growth in labor force is a positive sign, although the fact that many of these ended up on the unemployment list may show a slowing of the overall economy even as individuals return to the job market. It is impossible to measure how rising inflationary pressures may be driving individuals to seek employment, but it is certainly a possible factor in the labor force increase.

Since the employment/unemployment data are available only before seasonal adjustment, it is useful to compare this month’s data with not only the prior month, but also with data from the past June period. Since June 2021, the Atlanta area labor force has grown by 87,371 with employment up by 128,247 and unemployment down by 40,410. As a result, the area’s unemployment rate dropped from 4.5% to 3..2%.

Atlanta area job market

Atlanta area jobs grew by 10,200 in June with all of these gains occurring in the private sector as governments recorded a net decline over the month after seasonal adjustment. While the increase was improvement in April’s revised 8,400 job gain, it is still only half of the increase recorded in either January or February of this year.

Looking at jobs data before seasonally adjustment, the private sector added 23,300 jobs over the month, while government jobs declined by 2,700 with a small 300 job drop in federal government employment, and 1,200 job declines in both state and local governments.

Within the private sector, professional and business services was the large gainer with employment up by 5,900 over the month. Food services and drinking places also added significant employment, with 5,600 new jobs created in June.

Retail trade marked a decline with 500 fewer jobs in June compared to the previous month. 

Friday, July 29, 2022

The money illusion in the South: Employers raise wages, but retail prices continue to rise faster

 Employment Cost Index - 12-month increase

Private Industry Workers' Wages and Salaries in the South

Current Dollars

Constant Dollars

Private industry costs for wages and salaries in the South rose 2.2% for the 2nd quarter (April-June) 2022, according to new information provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  The increase occurred following increases of 1.0% in the 1st quarter of 2022 and 0.7% in the 4th quarter of 2021.

Over the past 12 months, southern employers’ payout of wages and salaries has risen 5.9%, the largest percentage increase in the series, which dates back to 2001. For private sector workers in the Atlanta-Athens area, the 12-month increase was 4.4%.

In comparison, nationally, private industry wages and salaries rose 1.6% in the 2nd quarter following increases of 1.4% and 1.0% in the previous two quarters.  Over the past year, employers’ cost for wages and salaries rose 5.7% for the nation.

Adjusting for inflation

While employer wage costs rose, they continued to fall behind the inflation rate of retail prices. Southern employers in private industry saw their costs for wages and salaries decline 1.0% over the quarter and 3.6% over the year when the dollars were adjusted for inflation.

For the U.S., private industry employers saw wages and salaries drop 1.4% over the quarter and decline 3.1% over the past 12 months when including adjustment for inflation.

Using another way of expressing the change over time for wages and salaries of private industry workers in the South, over the past 10 years, nominal (before inflation adjustment) wages have increased 31.3%.

Including the impact of inflation, this increase falls to a 1.8% cumulative increase over the past decade.

 Money illusion

One of the insidious effects of inflation is that workers see increases in their paychecks and feel wealthier even as their purchasing power declines. As a result, workers continue to spend based on their increasing nominal wages even though they are actually able to purchase less. This continuing propensity to spend actually contributes to inflation remaining elevated for a longer time period.

Only when inflation hits high levels will workers adjust their spending and/or begin to demand higher wages to compensate for their declining purchasing power.

Friday, July 22, 2022

Georgia headline unemployment rate under 3% as the state continues to post solid growth numbers

Georgia’s June unemployment rate came in at 2.9%, statistically not a significant change from last month’s 3.0% rate, but one that will be noted by most of the media as the lowest unemployment rate in the state going back to the beginning of the series in 1976.

In the state’s news release, Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler is quoted: "We have never seen an unemployment rate below three percent," said Commissioner Butler. "The unemployment rate is decreasing exactly the way it should in a strong economy. We are adding new job seekers and they are quickly finding employment."

Labor Force

The state’s labor force grew by 8,103 people in June. Contributing to the state’s 2.9% unemployment rate was an increase of 10,420 people employed while 2,317 fewer people were counted as unemployed. The labor force participation rate (62.3) and the employment-population ratio (60.5) remained unchanged over the month. Both rates remained slightly below the levels they reached at the end of 2019.


Georgia added 18,100 nonfarm jobs in June, roughly in line with additions in March, April, and May. Of those new jobs, 15,000 were in the private sector and 3,100 were in government. The showing in government was the best one-month net new job growth since June 2020.

Since June 2021, the state has seen the addition of 246,300 jobs for a growth rate of 5.4%. Of those, 238,000 have been in the private sector.

Job growth among sectors was nicely distributed with health care and social assistance jobs in Georgia growing by 3,700 over the month, professional and business services employment rising by 2,800, the manufacturing sector adding 2,500, leisure and hospitality employment increasing by 2,500, wholesale trade jobs increasing by 2,200, and state government adding 2,000 jobs.

Construction industry employment continues to disappoint. In June, jobs in the sector were down by 400. Although constructions jobs grew by 1,100 in May, they fell by a total of 6,200 between February and April. Over the past 12 months, construction jobs in Georgia have declined by 200 even as other sectors post rapid growth.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Job openings down in May for Georgia, as inflation rises in the Atlanta area in June

Two new reports from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics paint a increasingly tough atmosphere for workers in Georgia. A decline in the number of job openings means fewer opportunities for workers to improve their economic position, while rising prices will squeeze their incomes.

Job openings in Georgia

Job openings in Georgia dropped by 69,000 between April and May 2022 to 367,000. In comparison, the state recorded 436,000 in April and 365,000 openings in May 2021.

The job openings rate in the state dropped from 7.4 in May 2021 to 7.1 in May 2022. The job openings rate peaked at 8.4 in August and October 2021 and again in February and April 2022.

If the number of workers choosing to quit offers an insight to workers' psychology, the number of job openings offers a similar insight to employers. A reduction in the number of openings indicates that employers in Georgia are less optimistic about their future business prospects.

While the number of job openings declined, the number of hires, quits and layoffs were virtually unchanged over the month.


Consumer prices in the Atlanta area rose by 2.4% between April and June and increased 11.5% in the 12 months ending in June.

For the nation, consumer prices increased 2.5% for the two months ending in June and rose 9.1% over the past 12 months.

The 12-month increase was the largest recorded for the Atlanta metro area since BLS began posting bimonthly data in 1999. As a contrast, in January 2021 the Atlanta area recorded a 12-month increase of 2.4% compared to the current two-month increase with the same percentage change.

In June, food prices in the Atlanta area rose by 2.1%, over two months as costs for food at home increased 3.0% and food away from home moved up by 1.0%. Over the past 12 months, food prices increased 10.1%.

Housing costs increased 2.5% over the previous two months with rents increasing 2.7%. Over the past year, housing costs in the Atlanta area have risen 11.0% with rents increasing 12.2%.

After increasing in January, apparel costs have declined in each of the past four months with the apparel index posting a 6.9% decline in the two months ending in June. With those recent declines, the index has increased 4.8% over the past year.

Transportation costs rose 6.1% in June with the index increasing 23.8% over the previous 12 months, almost the same percentage increase recorded for the index in the 12 months ending in June 2021. Combined, the transportation index in the Atlanta area has risen 53.3% since June 2020.

Gasoline cost increases were a major contributor to the rise in transportation costs with gasoline costs rising 16.3% in the two months ending in June and increasing 50.8% over the past year. Since June 2020, gasoline costs in the Atlanta area have increased 140.3%.

Costs for all items less and food and energy in the Atlanta area increased 1.5% for the two months ending in June. The index rose 9.7% over the past 12 months.

The index for all items less food and energy in the U.S. increased 1.3%, while the 12-month increase was 5.9%. 

Friday, July 1, 2022

Georgia Department of Labor asks to withdraw from settlement agreement to fix delays in unemployment benefits

UPDATE July 6, 2022: Georgia Department of Labor has asked to withdraw from the settlement with the Southern Poverty Law Center regarding a lawsuit stemming from delays in the payment of unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 epidemic. Georgia DOL argues that the SPLC has violated provisions of the settlement agreement.


Georgia Department of Labor agrees to fix delays in unemployment benefits

From the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC): 

“A state judge in Georgia signed off on the preliminary settlement of a lawsuit against the Georgia Department of Labor over extreme delays in the payment of unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Under the settlement, the GDOL will make multiple improvements to its current system of processing unemployment claims to deal with the extreme delays that have plagued the state agency since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic led to devastating levels of unemployment in Georgia. At its peak, unemployment in Georgia rose to 12.6%, and some individuals have been waiting for appellate rulings for years.  

“While GDOL claims there is no current backlog in making payments for unemployment benefits, we know there are still hundreds of thousands of people waiting for their appeals to be heard, with many having no idea when their appeals will occur,” said Jamie Rush, a senior staff attorney for the SPLC Economic Justice Project. “The changes agreed to in this settlement should allow people to get their claims and appeals processed quicker while keeping them informed about what is going on.”  

The lawsuit, filed in 2021, sought to address the systemic issues at the GDOL that resulted in the massive backlog and extreme delays in determinations, payments and appellate decisions. At that time, hundreds of thousands of people were waiting for their unemployment claims to be processed or an appeal to be heard.” 

GDOL Response 

In response, Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler claimed that GDOL was already working on fixes to the program that would have occurred even without the lawsuit. 

You can read more about the settlement terms on the SPLC website.