Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A B.S. in Manufacturing?

Name an industry that has lost almost 5 million jobs since the turn of the century. Now name an industry that is projected to lose another 500,000 jobs by 2022.

That industry is manufacturing, yet Georgia Southern University has begun accepting students to its new B.S. in Manufacturing Engineering.

When classes begin in August, the university will begin the first undergraduate Manufacturing Engineering Degree Program in the state of Georgia and Southeast United States with the first graduates expected in May 2019.

Maybe its best chance for success is that it is counter-intuitive?

Selecting an undergraduate major is a difficult choice. Among the problems with selecting a career field for undergraduates are:

1.   With so much information on the Internet these days, there is a certain herd mentality with most students crowding into the current “hot” fields.

2.    Students, with the encouragement of their parents, choose what is popular even if they are not suited for that career.

3.    Occupational projections are imprecise at best, even if their predictions are treated as facts rather than as informed guesses.

Even the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is responsible for the biennial Occupational Outlook Handbook, says: The accuracy of projections for individual occupations is subject to error because of the many unknown factors that may affect the economy over the projection period. Furthermore, while occupational employment projections and related job outlook information can provide valuable inputs to the career decision-making process, they should not be the sole basis for a choice of career.

So what advantages do students face in this field?

Manufacturing, especially in the U.S., is translating into a high-tech field, where automation and high value production are the means to increased profitability. That probably means fewer jobs overall, but more opportunities for individuals with technical skills.

Mass customization of items is the trend, and mass customization means quick turnaround times, which requires manufacturers to be located closer to their customers. Manufacturing a high value, low quantity item is inconsistent with slow delivery from remote locations.

The U.S., like few nations on earth, constitutes a major market. Exports are good, but the U.S. is a large enough market that internal demand drives most of its GDP. Fluctuations in currency affects production but not to the extent that it does in smaller markets. To the extent that automated factories can offset lower labor costs elsewhere in the world, the manufacturing sector can be competitive.

The Southeast needs to be a diverse economy, and strong agriculture, manufacturing, and service industries can combine to provide economic stability and growth.

It is unlikely that manufacturing can again become the job creator that it was in our past, or that we currently see in health care, but there is still a place for advanced manufacturing in the U.S.

The students at Georgia Southern University may just find themselves graduating in time to take advantage of these trends.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Atlanta metro claims 4th place in new jobs

Employers in the Atlanta metro area created 71,800 new jobs for the 12 months ending in June, the fourth best performance of large metro areas nationwide, according to preliminary data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The new jobs represent a 2.9 percent rise in employment over the year, compared to a 2.1 percent increase nationally.

Table. A. Net change in employment, June 2014 – June 2015, seasonally adjusted
Metro Area
12-month net 
employment gain
12-month percentage 
employment gain
New York
1.6 %
Los Angeles
2.5 %
3.4 %
2.9 %
2.9 %

For the month, the Atlanta area lost 3,000 jobs contrasting with the rest of the state that recorded a pick-up of 5,300 jobs for a net gain of 2,300 jobs statewide in June.

For the three months prior to June, the Atlanta area had averaged an increase of 4,900 jobs each month. In June last year, the metro area reported a one-month increase of 8,600 jobs.

Atlanta Metro Area, Nonfarm Jobs, 2014 - June 2015

In June, metro Atlanta’s unemployment rate stood at 6.0 percent, while the state recorded a rate of 6.1 percent, and the nation showed a rate of 5.3 percent. The Atlanta area rate stood at 7.3 percent in June 2014.

Georgia Metro Areas

Georgia’s metro areas showed mixed results in June and over the year. For the month, excluding the Atlanta area, five areas showed gains, while four areas showed declines, and two were unchanged.
Over the 12 months ending in June, Albany and Valdosta were the only two metro areas in the state recording losses in employment.

Seasonally adjusted data were not available for the Warner Robins area.

Table B. Georgia metropolitan statistical areas, net change in total nonfarm employment, seasonally adjusted
Metro Area
1-month net change,
June 2015
12-month net change,
June 2014 – June 2015
Warner Robins

Data are preliminary. Numbers provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Georgia Department of Labor.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Misclassification of port drivers hearing in Savannah on July 21

The U.S. Department of Labor has made the misclassification of workers as independent contractors one of its priorities. 

Around the country, efforts to focus on misclassification are being spearheaded by the Teamsters Union, which is encouraging the reclassification of port drivers from independent contractors to employees. The Port of Savannah has become one of their targets.

WTOC-TV in Savannah is reporting that “a first-of-its-kind meeting in Georgia is being held Tuesday [July 21, 2015] in Savannah. Savannah was chosen as the location of the first hearing on employee misclassification because of the large number of low-wage misclassified workers in the area, including 2,000 port truck drivers who are misclassified as “independent contractors.” 

The hearing being held by a State Senate committee to collect testimony and determine if legislation is needed during next year’s General Assembly legislative session.

Teamsters Local 728, along with the Savannah Regional Central Labor Council, argue that the drivers should be classified as employees of the trucking companies that do business with the Port of Savannah, which claims to be the largest single container terminal in North America.

The Wage and Hour Division of the Labor Department claims that
Misclassified employees often are denied access to critical benefits and protections to which they are entitled, such as the minimum wage, overtime compensation, family and medical leave, unemployment insurance, and safe workplaces. Employee misclassification generates substantial losses to the federal government and state governments in the form of lower tax revenues, as well as to state unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation funds. It hurts taxpayers and undermines the economy.”

WTOC-TV quotes one of the trucking companies, C&K Trucking, as saying that they can see some of those points, but some of it is partly the fault of how the port operates, blaming a system which is slow by nature and causes lag times and delays drivers.

Teamster locals on the West Coast are expressing similar grievances and pressing West Coast trucking companies and local and state officials to reclassify port drivers as employees.

Once reclassified, the Teamsters are having some success recruiting the drivers into local unions.

A Facebook page has been posted on the topic at https://www.facebook.com/Justice4PortDrivers. It currently shows more than 2,400 Likes.

You can learn more about misclassification on the Labor Department’s website at http://www.dol.gov/whd/workers/Misclassification/.

Georgia ranks 6th in new jobs for June

Georgia ranked sixth among all states in net new jobs for the 12 months ending in June, according to preliminary data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“As we look at the over-the-year picture, our employers created 106,000 jobs since June of last year. Our job growth rate of 2.6 percent remains higher than the national rate of 2.1 percent, and Georgia continues to be a national leader in job creation,” according to State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler.

Georgia Nonfarm Jobs, January 2014 - June 2015

The state dropped from fifth place in job creation, falling behind the State of Washington, which recorded 106,800 jobs over the year for an increase of 3.5 percent.

Georgia’s over-the-year jobs increase came despite more recent slowdowns in job creation.

In June, the state added only 2,300 jobs compared to an increase of 10,100 for the same month in 2014.

Private sector employment declined by 1,600 in June, while local governments added 3,400 jobs.

Over the past 12 months, employment in the state’s private sector has grown by 107,300. Local government jobs have risen by 3,800, while employment in the federal and state government has fallen.

This latest report also includes revision of the original May employment estimates, dropping the number of jobs in the state by 1,100 for that month.

State unemployment rates remain above the national average. In June, Georgia’s unemployment rate stood at 6.1 percent compared to the national unemployment rate of 5.3 percent. The state’s unemployment rate was 7.3 percent in June 2014 compared to the national rate of 6.1 percent. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

AFL-CIO honors Clayton County Chair as Friend of Labor

The Georgia AFL-CIO has announced that Jeffrey Turner, Chair of the Clayton County Commission, will be honored as a ‘Friend of Labor’ at its annual Labor Awards and Banquet on Friday evening.

According to the federation’s website, “the Georgia State AFL-CIO is the state federation of labor representing over 120,000 members of more than 220 unions throughout Georgia. The mission of the Georgia AFL-CIO is to improve the lives of working families—to bring economic justice to the workplace and social justice to our state and the nation.” In 2014, approximately 4.3 percent of Georgia workers were union members, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, although all were not affiliated with the AFL-CIO.

Clayton County Chairman Jeffrey Turner

Jeffrey Turner was elected as Chairman of the Clayton County Board of Commissioners in August 2012. He had served previously as Clayton County’s first African-American Chief of Police.

Recently Turner has been involved in the controversy surrounding the removal of Greg Porter, the person who succeeded Turner as chief of police for the county. Porter has been quoted as accusing the Chairman of “bypassing him [Porter] and giving orders directly to police department employees as well as making “questionable requests” involving police department resources.”

Porter chose to retire rather than take a reassignment to head the county’s 911 department.
“I’ve been involved in Clayton law enforcement for nearly 29 years and now he (Turner) comes out of nowhere taking my weapon leaving me defenseless,” Porter told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “You don’t take a police officer’s weapon leaving me defenseless. That’s disrespectful. It’s retaliation.”

Information on the awards ceremony is available on the Georgia AFL-CIO website at http://georgiaunions.org/.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Albany, Athens, and Valdosta job losses partially offset higher job growth in Atlanta metro area for the 1st half of 2015

The Albany, Athens, and Valdosta metro areas suffered the largest employment losses in Georgia during the first half of 2015 according to preliminary data (not seasonally adjusted) from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Georgia Department of Labor.

The Athens area recorded a net decline of 2,200 jobs, followed by a loss of 1,700 jobs in Valdosta, and 1,600 jobs in the Albany area.

As a percentage of the total number of jobs in each area, Valdosta suffered the largest loss, dropping 3.1 percent of its jobs over the first half of 2015, compared with only a 0.2 percent loss for the first half of 2014. The Albany area recorded a percentage loss of 2.6 percent, while Athens showed a 2.3 percent loss for the first six months of 2015. Compared to the first half of 2014 when the state added 43,000 jobs, the same three areas all recorded smaller losses for that same period.

In contrast, the Atlanta metro area recorded job gains of 12,600 for the first six months of 2015, although this compares to a 32,500 job gain for the same period in 2014.

The Dalton MSA showed the highest percentage growth over the first half of 2015, rising 1.5 percent, an increase of 1,000 jobs.

Overall, Georgia recorded 8,900 jobs between January and June 2015 for an increase of only 0.2 percent. This contrasts with the 43,000 jobs created in the state from January to June 2014 and the 99,600 jobs created between July and December 2014.

Employment losses by Georgia metro area by percentage change, January to June 2015

Georgia Metro Area
Net change January – June 2015
Percent change January – June 2015
Valdosta MSA
-3.1 %
Albany MSA
-2.6 %
Athens MSA
-2.3 %
Warner Robins MSA
-1.8 %
Macon MSA
-1.2 %
Rome MSA
-1.0 %
Augusta MSA
-0.3 %

Employment gains by Georgia metro area by percentage change, January to June 2015

Georgia Metro Area
Net change January – June 2015
Percent change January – June 2015
Dalton MSA
1.5 %
Brunswick MSA
1.2 %
Columbus MSA
0.8 %
Savannah MSA
0.7 %
Gainesville MSA
0.6 %
Hinesville MSA
0.5 %
Atlanta MSA
0.5 %

Data are provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics with preliminary June 2015 data provided by the Georgia Department of Labor. All numbers are before seasonal adjustment factors. For questions, email michaelwald50@gmail.com

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Georgia employment slows in the 1st half of 2015

For the first half of 2015, nonfarm employment in Georgia grew by 8,900 jobs (+0.2%), a sharp decrease in its growth rate compared to the previous six months, when the state grew by 99,600 jobs (+2.4%) from July to December 2014. (Data are before seasonally adjustment factors.)

Over the 12 months ending in June 2015, the state added 108,500 jobs (+2.6%) according to preliminary not seasonally adjusted data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Georgia Department of Labor

June 2015 marked the slowest job growth for the first half of the calendar year in Georgia since 2011. The rate of job growth was slower than in the previous three years and slower than the national rate of growth for the first six months of 2015.

The slowdown in growth occurred in a wide variety of industries. State government lost 13,700 jobs over the six-month period, while education and health services recorded a decline of 4,200 jobs. This was partially offset by an increase of 16,100 jobs in professional and business services.

While the nation also showed slower job growth in the first half of 2015, Georgia’s job creation grew slower than the nation. For the first half of 2015, nationally job growth was recorded an increase of 1,333,000 jobs (+0.9%) despite job declines in those states with large employment in the energy sector and despite bad weather in the first months of 2015, which decreased economic activity in some northern states. 

Over the 12 months ending in June, the nation's employment has grown by 2,926,000 jobs (+2.1%).

Top 4 industries adding jobs in Georgia for the first six months of the calendar year 2015
Job growth 1st half of 2015
Leisure and Hospitality
Professional and Business Services
Wholesale Trade

Bottom 4 industries losing jobs in Georgia for the first six months of the calendar year 2015
Job declines 1st half of 2015
State Government
-          13,700
Retail Trade
-          12,400
Education and Health Services
-          4,200
Transportation, Warehousing, and Public Utilities
-          3,400

Data provided by U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics except for June 2015 data provided by the Georgia Department of Labor extracted July 16, 2015. For questions, email michaelwald50@gmail.com