Monday, July 21, 2014

5 Years After – Georgia’s Winners and Losers in Post-Recession Recovery

After 18 months, the Great Recession officially ended in June 2009, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. Whether you believe the recession ended may depend on your current employment status and which industry you were in when the recession began in December 2007.

For Georgia as a whole, the state has added 208,700 nonfarm jobs (not seasonally adjusted) according to the most recent report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This represents a 5.4 percent increase since June 2009.
Nonfarm Employment, Georgia, 2009 - 2014, Not seasonally adjusted

To put that number in perspective, the state is still 61,300 jobs shy of where it stood in June 2007, six months before the recession began.

But people don’t work in the total economy, they work in specific jobs in specific industries, and different parts of the state’s economy have recovered at different rates, including some industries that are still below where their employment level sat in June 2009.


Professional and Business Services has added 106,700 jobs in Georgia since the recession ended for an increase of 21.0 percent. Although the rate of growth might be surprising, the growth itself is not, as this industry includes the temporary help industry. Employment services accounted for nearly half of the industry’s growth. As companies recover, they tend to hire temporary workers before they are willing to commit to full-time staff. Thus employment service companies tend to do well post-recession.

Leisure and Hospitality has shown solid growth as well, with the industry adding 48,000 jobs for an increase of 12.2 percent. Of this total, 43,500 jobs were in Food Services as restaurants see a return of customers and add staff to accommodate the increased business.

Interestingly, another winner is Private Education. The sector has added 6,800 jobs, an increase of 11.1 percent in contrast to public education (see Losers below). This is a combination of private colleges and universities as well as private primary and secondary education, and most of the growth (5,000 of the 6,800) has come in private primary and secondary education. The message is that those who can are moving their children out of public elementary and high schools and into private schools in Georgia.

Private Educational Services Employment, Georgia, 2009 - 2014, Not seasonally adjusted

Health Care continues strong with post-recession growth of 40,800 jobs, or 10.3 percent. The health care field rode through the recession with barely a nod to it and continues to post impressive job numbers, although there is some hint in the more recent numbers that ACA is having more effect on slowing the industry than the economic recession.


Outside government, Construction remains the largest loser in the general economy. In June 2007, the industry employed 224,100 people in Georgia. As of June 2014, this number stands at 152,800, a drop of nearly 32 percent. Since the recession ended, the industry has lost 15,100 jobs, or – 9 percent. The housing slowdown, an overbuilt retail sector, and a slowdown in building construction all made their contributions to this dreary result.

With one exception, the government sector has not recovered at any level since the recession ended in June 2009. Federal government employment in Georgia is down by 1,900 jobs, state government has lost 12,700 (600 of those lost jobs were in state education), and local government has lost 19,500 jobs.

The one exception is local government other than education. For local government, if you excluded local education, the rest of local government actually gained jobs, as local government education lost 29,100 jobs whereas the rest of local government agencies gained 9,600 jobs over the five years.

Overall, the state’s recovery is welcome, even if it is below the national recovery rate where employment growth has recorded a 5.98 percent increase. A boost to construction and better growth in higher paying sectors will be an even more welcome recovery.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Georgia By the Numbers: 5 Years After the End of the Recession

Five years after the end of the Great Recession in June 2009
(June 2009 to June 2014, Nonfarm Jobs, Not Seasonally Adjusted)

Total Nonfarm Employment                    + 208,700     + 5.4 percent
Construction                                           -   15,100      - 9.0 percent
Manufacturing                                        +     6,900     + 1.9 percent
Wholesale Trade                                    +     9,400     + 4.7 percent
Retail Trade                                           +   24,300     + 5.6 percent
Utilities                                                  +     1,100      - 5.4 percent
Transport and Warehousing                   +   13,600      + 8.5 percent
Information                                            -     1,100       - 1.0 percent
Financial                                               +     7,300       + 3.3 percent
Professional and Business Services       +  106,700     + 21.0 percent
Health Care and Social Assistance        +   40,800      + 10.3 percent
Leisure and Hospitality                         +   48,000      + 12.2 percent
Government                                         -    34,100     -    4.9 percent

(Industries shown are representative. Not all industries showing, so industry totals will not add up to Total Nonfarm Employment.)

Friday, July 11, 2014

More Calls for Immigration Reform Results in More Skepticism

Walter Jones writes in the Augusta Chronicle about the odd coalition calling for immigration reform. Made up of “representatives of the Technology Association of Georgia, the Georgia Restaurant Association, the Georgia Poultry Federation and the unions ALF-CIO and Workers United,” the “coalition supports granting more visas to high-skilled and low-skilled immigrants, tougher border security and a way for undocumented aliens to become U.S. citizens,” according to the news article.

He also notes that a poll released by The Essential Economy Council supporting the coalition’s position causes no change in the positions of candidates running for Georgia’s U.S. Senate seat, which reflects the candidates’ belief that voters remain skeptical of immigration reform.

This news, following on the heels of an opinion piece produced by Georgia Agribusiness Council President Bryan Tolar neatly summarizes the current situation, at least in Georgia.

Business and agricultural leaders in the state see the need for immigration reform to address their needs, but ostensibly pro-business citizens oppose the very reforms that the business leadership wants.

I suspect that the voices of the anti-immigration speakers outweigh their actual numbers but their loud rhetoric needs to be matched by the loud voices of business leaders and agricultural producers who are being hurt by the current status quo.

What is needed is a concerted campaign at a grass-roots level to show why immigration reform will have a positive impact on citizens in the state. It has to be at the level of individual business owners making their case to their friends and neighbors.

It is too easy at present for those who speak out against immigration reform to make unsubstantiated charges that cannot be proven but that cause others to remain silent even if they actually support the call for reform.

We have to find ways for the two groups not to talk past each other but actually engage in conversations, as many private as public.

Taking a public stand is a good first step. Putting together a campaign to convince citizens of the positives to be gained through immigration reform should be the next step.