Thursday, January 30, 2014

Government as a Georgia Industry

In Georgia, government, especially state and local government, has declined as the state suffered through the recent recession. Federal, state, and local government jobs in Georgia have dropped by 30,600 over the six year period from the end of 2007 to the end of 2013.

Yet government – Federal, state, and local – has always been a significant industry in Georgia as measured by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In general, government tends to have fewer fluctuations than other industries, so it provides a stabilizing force in job markets. Government employees are more likely to spend during recessions because their jobs are normally regarded as relatively secure compared to other sectors.

The industry balances other sectors, rising more slowly than average during times of economic recovery and declining slower in times of recession.

In 2007, before the recession, government at all levels represented 16.8 percent of the state’s nonfarm employment. This was higher than for the nation as a whole, which saw government as 16.4 percent of nonfarm jobs nationally.

By the end of 2013, government in Georgia had declined to 16.5 percent of jobs, a drop of 0.3 percentage points, the same as the drop nationwide, down to 16.1 percent.


Table 1. Government’s Share of Nonfarm Employment, 2007 and 2013
Geographic Area
Percentage of Nonfarm Employment Attributed to Government in December 2007
Percentage of Nonfarm Employment Attributed to Government in December 2013
United States
16.4
16.1
Georgia
16.8
16.5
Warner Robins
39.2
42.1
Hinesville-Fort Stewart
38.8
37.9
Athens-Clarke County
33.2
35.1
Valdosta
24.1
25.1
Albany
21.5
21.8
Brunswick
21.9
25.2
Augusta
20.9
21.3
Columbus
18.9
20.6
Rome
16.4
15.4
Macon
14.8
15.3
Savannah
14.1
14.7
Atlanta
13.6
13.0
Gainesville
13.4
13.0
Dalton
9.9
11.1
 Source: Figures derived from U.S. BLS nonfarm employment, not seasonally adjusted

Government in the Atlanta MSA

Atlanta is home to nearly 60 percent of the state’s nonfarm jobs. Although it is home to the state capitol and many government jobs, as a percentage of total employment, government is a relatively small contributor to its job market.

In 2007, the Atlanta area contained 338,100 Federal, state, and local government jobs representing 13.6 percent of the workforce.

By the end of 2013, the area held 328,800 government jobs, and government’s share of the workforce had declined to 13.0 percent.

All these numbers suggest that Atlanta supports a relatively smaller share of government jobs, both as compared to the state as a whole and to the nation. This is despite the city being home to the Southeast region of a number of Federal agencies, home to the CDC, and home to the headquarters of many state agencies.

Government in Other Georgia Metro Areas

While statewide, government's share of jobs has decreased slightly, in a number of areas, its share has actually increased over the past six years.

In some cases, this was due to government employment declining slower than overall job numbers, while in other areas, government employment has actually grown over the past six years.

For example, in Athens-Clarke County, home to the state university, government employment has grown by 800 jobs and government’s share of total employment in the area grew from 33.2 percent in 2007 to 35.1 percent in 2013.

Similarly, in Warner Robins, government added 2,100 jobs and its share of total employment grew from 39.2 percent to 42.1 percent.

Alternatively, in the Albany metro area, while government shrank by 500 jobs over six years, its share of employment rose from 21.5 to 21.8 percent.

In the Dalton area, government declined by 700 jobs, but the relatively small decline in government compared to large decreases in overall employment resulted in its increasing its share of total employment from 9.9 to 11.1 percent.

For Georgia, regardless of its philosophical issues related to government, government continues to be a significant contributor to the state's economic well-being.

This is true especially, and perhaps surprisingly, outside the Atlanta metro area.


Email me at michaelwald50@gmail.com


Winner and Losers Among Georgia’s Metro Areas

In 2013, Georgia added 90,100 jobs, two-thirds of which were located in the Atlanta metro area, according to employment statistics released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Table 1. Percentage change in Nonfarm Jobs in 2013
Geographic Area
Percentage Change in 2013
Statewide Georgia
2.25


Atlanta
2.46
Athens-Clarke County
1.91
Macon
1.61
Gainesville
1.46
Albany
0.81
Rome
0.77
Columbus
0.50
Savannah
0.19
Valdosta
0.19
Augusta
-0.09
Dalton
-0.47
Hinesville-Fort Stewart
-0.51
Warner Robins
-0.67
Brunswick
-1.72


The Atlanta area led both in the number of jobs created over the past year, as well in the percentage increase, with nonfarm employment increasing by nearly 2.5 percent compared to a nearly 2.3 percent increase statewide.

All other metro areas in the state reported below average employment increases. Athens-Clarke County increased by 1.9 percent (1,700 jobs) followed by Macon at 1.6 percent (1,600 jobs), and Gainesville increasing by nearly 1.5 percent (1,100 jobs).

Five areas showed declines in employment over the year. Augusta showed a very small decline of less than 0.1 percent (down 200 jobs). Hinesville-Fort Stewart reported a decline of 0.5 percent, which translated into a 100 job loss.

The Brunswick recorded the most significant percentage loss over the year, down 1.7 percent for a loss of 700 jobs.


2007 – 2013

The Great Recession has had a significant impact on Georgia, from which the state has only partially recovered. The state is still down 108,000 jobs from its totals at the end of 2007, despite this year’s increase.

In December 2007, the state reported 4,202,100 nonfarm jobs compared to 4,094,100 at the end of 2013.
The Atlanta area, while showing a significant recovery from its recession lows, is still 27,800 jobs short of its total in December 2007.

Two areas with large and significant losses since 2007 are Dalton and Brunswick.

Over the past six years, Dalton has lost 14,300 jobs, more than 18 percent of its 2007 employment, while Brunswick has lost 6,100 jobs, more than 13 percent of its prior employment level.

The only metro areas in the state showing employment above their 2007 levels are Hinesville-Fort Stewart (up by 1,200 jobs) and Warner Robins (up 900 jobs). Both areas are affected by military-related employment that has contributed to past steadiness in their job markets. With expected military cutbacks to continue in 2014 and beyond, it is unlikely that military spending will continue to be a source of job stability in the future for both of these areas.