Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Georgia celebrates a strong 2015 job market, with the Atlanta metro area remaining the key to the state's future

Georgia ended 2015 with the 3rd fastest growing job market among the largest 11 states in the nation, those with a job market of 4 million or more nonfarm jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Georgia posted a 2.2 percent rise in calendar year 2015 following only California and Florida, which each posted increases of 2.9 percent.

While Georgia added only 3,300 jobs in December, it averaged nearly 7,600 new jobs each month over the past year for a total of 91,100 net new jobs.  In contrast, California added the most new positions among the 50 states in 2015 at 459,400, followed by Florida, which added 233,100 new jobs.

Of the 11 largest states, only Illinois showed a decrease with a net loss of 3,000 jobs over the year.

Together, the 11 largest states accounted for more than 55 percent of the nation’s new jobs (1,459,900 compared to 2,650,000 nonfarm jobs nationally) with a combined job creation rate of 1.9 percent, equal to the nation’s rate.

5-year recovery from recession

Georgia nonfarm jobs, 2000 - 2015, seasonally adjusted
Despite a slow rebound from the 2007-2009 recession, Georgia has rapidly added jobs over the past three years resulting in a five-year growth spurt of 441,800 jobs. This has resulted in an 11.4 percent rise in its nonfarm employment and places it 4th among the fastest growing large states in the nation.

Other large states with significant five-year growth rates include California (14.2 percent), Texas (14.1 percent), and Florida (13.9 percent).

Large states have been significantly outperforming states with smaller populations since the end of the recession. Since the end of 2010, the 11 largest states have captured 60 percent of the net new nonfarm jobs in the nation.

Atlanta remains a key component of Georgia’s job engine

In 2015, the Atlanta metro area added 77,000 of the state’s 91,100 net new jobs, accounting for 84.5 percent of the state’s growth even as the area is home to approximately 60 percent of the state’s total nonfarm jobs.

Since the end of 2010, the Atlanta metro area has seen the addition of 338,200 jobs, which represents more than 75 percent of all the new jobs in the state.

A good example of the importance of the metro area to the state is in December’s numbers, where the Atlanta metro area’s 200 job decline resulted in a slowdown in the state’s job growth to only 3,300 net new jobs. Without a robust Atlanta economy, the rest of the state cannot maintain job growth by itself.

The drop-off in the Atlanta job market last month was the first time the area had noted a job decrease in a December since 2009.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Want a Better Job? Become Data Savvy

Looking at new employment projections data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the message is that individuals looking for good jobs in the future will need stronger data skills.
Above are some of the occupations with largest projected future job growth and the highest median annual wage according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What do they have in common?

Answer: Working with data and numbers are important aspects of each of these occupations.

Now, to be clear, none of these jobs necessarily require majors in mathematics or statistics. Those “pure” math jobs still exist but none of them fall into the category of the largest projected growth.

Rather, these jobs are “translational” occupations.

By translational, I mean jobs where the incumbents must understand and appreciate data and statistical concepts and be able to take those concepts and translate them into other forms of knowledge using both data skills plus verbal and social skills.

The jobs with the greatest potential all require some degree of skill in analyzing data and making judgments based on that analysis.

Computers, along with the Internet, are providing greater abilities to collect and analyze large amounts of data. In this environment, it is no surprise that occupations that can take advantage of technology to add insights are increasingly valuable to employers.

For example, the BLS definition of Software Developer reads:

Software developers are the creative minds behind computer programs. Some develop the applications that allow people to do specific tasks on a computer or another device. Others develop the underlying systems that run the devices or that control networks.”
Typical duties of a software developer include:

·       Analyze users’ needs and then design, test, and develop software to meet those needs
·       Recommend software upgrades for customers’ existing programs and systems
·       Design each piece of an application or a system and plan how the pieces will work together
·       Create a variety of models and diagrams (such as flowcharts) that instruct programmers how to write software code
·       Ensure that a program continues to function normally through software maintenance and testing
·       Document every aspect of an application or a system as a reference for future maintenance and upgrades
·       Collaborate with other computer specialists to create optimum software

Yes, an understanding of math is needed, but applying those concepts in a creative way is just as important for success.

Software developers need to think in terms of data but then take that process to create results.

Even among the so-called “helping professions”, data knowledge is an essential skill for advancement. Registered Nurses are on this list. Do Registered Nurses need math and an understanding of data?

In an online article titled, “How Do Nurses Use Math in their Jobs?” J. Lucy Boyd writes:

“Nurses routinely use addition, fractions, ratios and algebraic equations each workday to deliver the right amount of medication to their patients or monitor changes in their health. Nursing schools often test new students on their mathematical prowess, requiring a remedial course in medical math if necessary. Even in state-of-the-art medical facilities, successful nurses must have sharp mathematical skills.”

Again, these jobs are not confined to natural born mathematicians, or even people with advanced math skills; but they will go to those willing to embrace the concepts and use math in a practical manner.

As a final argument in favor of employees who can deal with data and analysis, let’s look again at the BLS list of occupations projected to have the largest job growth.

This time let us look at the lowest paying jobs on that same list:
These jobs are also projected to have the largest growth by 2024, and there will be plenty of them, but in each case, the data skills required are very basic and none of them require data analysis.

In the 19th Century, rising up the economic ladder required the ability to read and write a language.

In the 21st Century, the ability to read and write a language is balanced by an equal ability to understand math, be comfortable with data and do some level of data analysis.

No, math majors are not required, and a PhD in Mathematics or Statistics is not the best preparation for these high pay, high growth jobs. Working with data is fundamentally different than understanding advanced mathematics.

Of course, this does not mean the end of language majors. In fact, it requires people who can move between the worlds of data and language. Those who can feel comfortable with data and still have the verbal and social skills to creatively understand the value of the data.

If the BLS employment projections are correct, then the future belongs not to math “geeks” but rather to those who are Data Savvy.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Happy New Year: Atlanta area ends 2015 on high note

The Atlanta area posted the greatest percentage growth in jobs among the largest metro areas in the nation for the most recent 12-month period, according to newly released data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Over the year, the Atlanta metro area saw a 3.4% increase that translates into 86,500 new jobs. 

Among the large metros, the Dallas area recorded the next greatest increase, rising 3.0%. Houston showed the smallest annual increase at 0.8%.For the three months ending in November, Atlanta added 50,300 jobs, which was the most jobs created for the fall period looking at records going back to 1990.

As a result of this burst of job creation, the metro area’s unemployment rate dropped to 5.0%, a rate last recorded in 2008. In November 2014, the metro area’s unemployment rate stood at 6.1%.

Despite the large number of new jobs, the metro area has seen only a small increase in its labor force, rising by less than 16,000 people in the past year, an increase of 0.5%.

The combination of new jobs plus a lagging labor force places greater pressure on employers trying to hire and retain employees. 

Atlanta continues its role as the job engine for the state.

The Atlanta area is increasingly becoming the key to economic growth in the state. Here are a few indicators of the Atlanta metro area’s importance to Georgia:

Percentage of Georgia’s job growth attributable to the Atlanta metro area:
1-Month: 86.4%
3-Month: 64.2%
1-Year:  92.5%

5-Years: 78.1%