Sunday, November 25, 2018

Georgia’s largest counties post solid employment gains but wages continue to lag nation


Employment grew in 9 of Georgia’s 10 largest counties from June 2017 to June 2018, according to newly released information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Statewide, Georgia added 87,732 jobs, an increase of nearly 2% compared to the nation’s growth of 1.5%. Combined, the 9 largest counties accounted for a net addition of 43,440 new jobs.  The state’s 9 largest counties accounted for almost half of the state’s new jobs with the other half coming from the state’s remaining 150 counties. (Georgia has a total of 159 counties, more than any state with the exception of Texas.)

While employment in the state outpaced the nation for the 12 months ending in June, average weekly wages continued lag the national average as the state adds more jobs but at lower wages.

As of the second quarter of 2018, the average weekly wage in Georgia was $979, 7% below the national average of $1,055. Over the past year, weekly wages in Georgia grew by 2.2% compared to national wage growth of 3.3%.

Employment Changes June 2017 to June 2018

Fulton County (part of the Atlanta, Georgia Metropolitan Statistical Area) recorded the largest numerical job increase (20,620), while Hall County (which constitutes the Gainesville, Georgia MSA) showed the largest percentage increase (2.6%) over the year.

Of the 10 largest counties in the state, only Bibb County (part of the Macon, Georgia MSA) reported stagnant employment. Two counties showed employment growth of less than 1% over the year with Clayton County (part of the Atlanta, Georgia MSA) growing by only 615 jobs, while employment in Richmond County (part of the Augusta, Georgia MSA) increased by only 551 jobs.



10-year Employment Changes

Over the past 10 years, employment growth in Georgia has outpaced the nation. From June 2008 to June 2018, Georgia added 382,194 new jobs, an increase of 9.4% compared to the national increase of 7.9%.

Job growth has been concentrated in 8 of the 10 largest counties, which accounted for an increase of 266,057 jobs over the decade, or more than two-thirds of the state’s total job growth. As of June 2018, those 8 counties accounted for 53% of total employment in the state, up from 51% in June 2008.

Employment increases in the 8 counties over the decade ranged from 17.9% for Fulton County to 1% for DeKalb County (part of the Atlanta, Georgia MSA).

Declines occurred in the middle Georgia counties of Bibb, which lost 2,994 jobs over the decade, as well as Muscogee (part of the Columbus, Georgia MSA), which suffered a net loss of 1,767 jobs.

Changes in Average Weekly Wage June 2017 to June 2018

Fulton County continued to report the highest average weekly wage among the state’s largest counties at $1,353 per week, an increase of 1.8% over the year. Clayton County showed the greatest percentage increase with average weekly wages rising by 5.5%.

Cobb County (part of the Atlanta, Georgia MSA) recorded the only average weekly wage decline over the 12 months, dropping an average of $3 to $1,067 per week.



10-year Wage Growth

Georgia wages, already below the national average in 2008, continued to grow slower than the nation over the past decade. From the second quarter of 2008 to the second quarter of 2018, average weekly wages in Georgia rose 24.6% compared to a national increase of 25.4%.

All 10 of the largest counties in the state showed wage increases over the decade with both Clayton and Hall counties showing percentage growth above the national average. Ten-year average wage growth in the counties ranged from 33.8% for Clayton County to 15.6% in Gwinnett County (part of the Atlanta, Georgia MSA).

As of the second quarter of 2018, Muscogee County recorded the lowest average weekly wage among the 10 largest counties in the state at $797, more than 18% below the state’s average and more than 24% below the national average.

Data in this report comes from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) program. More information is available at https://www.bls.gov/cew/.