Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Georgia’s Employment in March: Things Improve

Georgia added 13,600 nonfarm jobs in March, seasonally adjusted; the state’s best job growth since October. The March 0.3 percent increase follows four months of slow growth and is better than growth in January and February combined.
As has remained the pattern, all of the growth occurred in the private sector, which added 13,900 jobs over the month offsetting a 600 job drop in local governments.
Over the 12 months ending in March, Georgia has seen an increase of 75,600 jobs reflecting private sector growth of 86,500 and government loss of 10,900.
The state continues to see its service sector expand much more rapidly with two industries, Leisure & Hospitality and Professional & Business Services representing almost 60 percent of the job growth over the month and 61 percent of the job growth over the year.
Because these two industries tend to concentrate in urban areas, the urban parts of the state are leaving the rural parts of Georgia further behind as the state’s economy recovers.
A piece of good news is that the state’s 4 million post-recession job mark, which Georgia set in February, held despite data revisions that saw a drop of 300 jobs from the preliminary to the first revision.
The state will look robust, or at least its urban areas, if its job trends remain on this track.
In fact, if private sector growth continues along this line, it is possible that state and local government employment may be able to rise as those employed in the private sector demand government services and higher employment levels result in less resistance to paying for those services. This would then create a second spurt of growth in the state, as government could become a contributor to state job growth rather than the drag it has been in the past many months. 
U.S. Comparison
Over the month, Georgia’s 0.3 percent job growth compares to the nation’s 0.1 percent increase. Over the past 12 months, Georgia’s 1.9 percent increase outpaced the nation’s 1.4 percent rise. The large job in Georgia’s employment last October keeps the state ahead of the nation in its 12-month comparisons.
Georgia by Industry
Professional and Business Services added 6,700 jobs in March, the best net increase among all industries and the second best percentage increase in the state at 1.2 percent.
Construction added 3,100 jobs, a 2.2 percent increase that was the highest percentage increase in March. The 3,100 jobs accounted for most of the gains in this industry over the past year, which has posted only a 3,500 job gain since March 2012. While the data are seasonally adjusted, adjusting for changes in weather from month-to-month is impossible, so it is always hard to predict one-month changes in the Construction industry, which is so heavily influenced by weather-related conditions.
Transportation & Utilities, Retail Trade, and Wholesale Trade each recorded gains of 0.5 percent over the month. The 2,200 jobs added to Retail is a good sign, while the percent increases in Transportation & Utilities and Wholesale are less important due to the relatively fewer people employed in these two industries in Georgia compared to its primary industries.
The Information industry dropped 600 jobs in March for a decline of 0.6 percent, while Mining & Logging posted a 1.2 percent decrease, but this reflects only a 100 job loss due to the small number of people employed in this industry in Georgia.
Despite the one-month loss, the Information industry has shown the highest percentage increase over the past 12 months, rising by 5.1 percent since March 2012 and adding 5,000 jobs over the year.
This industry was followed by Leisure & Hospitality and Professional & Business Services, each of which posted 4.9 percent increases since March 2012 with a combined increase of 46,500 jobs.
The Manufacturing sector continues to struggle, posting a 100 job loss for the month and only a 2,700 job gain over the year for an annual increase of 0.8 percent.
Losing industries continue to be concentrated in government with State, Federal, and Local governments posting annual declines of 1.2, 1.5 and 1.8 percent, respectively.
Only Mining & Logging has posted a worse annual percentage decline dropping 2.3 percent or – 200 jobs over the year.