Monday, December 28, 2020

Gross Domestic Product for Georgia, 3rd Quarter 2020


Real gross domestic product (GDP) for Georgia increased at an annual rate of 32.7 percent, according to information released by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. The percent change was smaller than for the United States as a whole, which grew by 33.4 percent.

The increases in the third quarter followed second quarter declines of 27.7 percent for Georgia and 31.4 percent for the U.S. In the first quarter of 2020, the state's real GDP declined by 4.0 percent, while the U.S. recorded a 5.0 percent drop.

In current dollars, the state’s real gross domestic product in the third quarter of 2020 totaled $627,667 million compared to its third quarter 2019 amount of $629,466 million.

Contributors to third quarter real GDP in Georgia

Economic sectors making the largest contributions to the state’s 32.7 percent gain included:

·         Healthcare and social assistance 3.90 percent

·         Durable goods manufacturing 3.40 percent

·         Accommodation and food services 3.29 percent

·         Wholesale trade 2.92 percent

·         Retail trade 2.36 percent

·         Transportation and warehousing 2.16 percent

·         Nondurable goods manufacturing 2.07 percent

Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction was the only sector recording a decline (-0.01 percent); utilities showed no change over the quarter. 


According to BEA, the increase in third quarter GDP reflected continued efforts to reopen businesses and resume activities that were postponed or restricted due to COVID-19. The full economic effects of the COVID19 pandemic cannot be quantified in the GDP estimate for the third quarter of 2020 because the impacts are generally embedded in source data and cannot be separately identified. 

Gross domestic product by state is the market value of goods and services produced by the labor and property located in a state. GDP by state is the state counterpart of the nation's gross domestic product, the Bureau's featured and most comprehensive measure of U.S. economic activity. 

Real values are inflation-adjusted statistics—that is, these exclude the effects of price changes. Contributions to growth are an industry’s contribution to the state’s overall percent change in real GDP. The contributions are additive and can be summed to the state’s overall percent change. 

More detailed information on GDP rates by state can be found at GDP by State | U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).


Saturday, December 19, 2020

Georgia Job Recovery: Where the Jobs Are and Are Not

 Georgia Nonfarm Employment, January 2019 - November 2020

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

As the job market in Georgia continues to recover from the shock of the Coronavirus pandemic and related temporary and permanent shutdowns of businesses, some industries are coming back at a faster pace than others.

In November, the state recorded a total of 4,561,700 jobs, an increase of 438.000 jobs compared to April but still 110,000 fewer than it contained at the end of 2019.

But while many businesses are not employing as many workers as they did 11 months ago, others have increased their employment.

Which industries continue to grow jobs and which industries end up with smaller net employments is very dependent on the direction of the economy moving forward. While a vaccine may improve the revenue outlook for some industries, economists will be looking to see if shifts in consumer behavior may have lasting effects that permanently shift employment patterns in the state.

Information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Quarterly Census of Employment showed that the largest job losses occurred in the Atlanta metro area although even those losses were not uniform among the metro Atlanta counties. Indicators as to whether job markets rebound to their previous levels even as economic activity increases will be important to watch over the coming year.


Industries adding jobs

Retail. One of the most interesting recoveries has been in retail. Retail jobs declined by 38,100 between the end of December and April, but since then they have rebounded by more than their earlier losses for a net gain in jobs of 20,900 over the 11 months of 2020.

Temporary employment services. Another industry that suffered large layoffs was the employment services industry as companies cut back on temporary help as business revenues declined. From the end of 2019 to April, the temporary help industry saw a drop of 46,300 jobs. With a sharp pickup in temporary jobs from May through August followed by continued, although mor modest, growth in September, October, and November, employment services have actually added 7,600 jobs since the first of the year.

Ambulatory health care services. As the pandemic increased, the public avoided going to health care providers for non-emergency health services, so outpatient centers and any non-critical health care that did not require an overnight hospital stay saw significant drops in business resulting in layoffs. From the end of 2019 through April, the industry saw a net loss of 25,800 jobs in the state. Since April, the industry has added back 33,300 for a net addition of 7,500 jobs since the beginning of the year.

Industries that avoided large variations in employment

While virtually every industry saw some downturn in employment between January and April, there were industries that suffered less disruption.

Warehouse and storage. Warehouses in the state saw a small decrease of 2,700 jobs between January and April but quickly reversed those losses as more business shifted online. For the 11 months ending in November, the industry has added 7,200 jobs.

Finance and insurance. The industry suffered virtually no employment declines in the first four months of the year, and then began adding jobs. As a result the industry in Georgia is up by 6,000 jobs through November.

Consultants. Businesses engaged in management, scientific, and technical consulting saw a small drop in employment (-3,500 jobs) in the first four months, but then added 3,400 jobs over the next seven months for a net loss of only 100 jobs for the 11 months ending in November.

Private colleges and universities. Non-government colleges and universities saw their decrease come later than other industries in the state with their largest employment downturns occurring between May and August but then adding both those jobs and more between September and November. For the 11 months ending in November, the industry is reporting a net increase of 1,300 jobs.

Industries still reporting significant drops in employment

Some of the hardest-hit industries in Georgia are still showing significant employment decreases for the 11 months ending in November.

Food services and drinking places. Restaurants and bars saw a tremendous drop in employment due to a combination of local requirements that temporarily banned indoor dining, as well as people’s reluctance to go out to eat. Through April, the industry saw a loss of 165,600 jobs in Georgia and is still employing 36,200 fewer people than it did at the beginning of 2020.

Accommodations. Similar to food services, businesses such as hotels, saw large drops in their business and cut back employment with job losses of 23,100 through the first four months of 2020. The lodging business has not returned to prior levels with the result that the industry is reporting 11,300 fewer jobs than it recorded at the end of 2019.

Manufacturing. Employment in Georgia’s manufacturing sector dropped 46,000 in the first four months of 2020 and has only partially recovered with a net job loss of 17,800 as of November.

Professional, scientific, and technical services. This industry lost 20,300 jobs between January and April, and still is down by 13,900 seven months later.

Government. State and local government employment has not been immune to the job losses experienced by private industry in Georgia. Over the 11 months ending in November, state government has seen its workforce shrink by 10,500 while local government education has seen a decline of 14,500 jobs.


Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Georgia leisure and hospitality; arts, entertainment and recreation; and personal services employment and wages affected by pandemic and response in the 2nd quarter of 2020

 By now there is no secret that temporary shutdowns and permanent closures related to the Coronavirus and efforts to combat it fell heavily on Georgia’s leisure and hospitality sector. Over the first six months of 2020, the sector saw a 20 percent drop in employment and a 36-percentage drop in employee total wages. This compares to an 8.5 percent decline in the state’s total workforce and a 12 percent drop in total wages.

The good news is that since the end of June, the leisure and hospitality sector in Georgia has rebounded partially, but it is still important to understand how different industries within the sector fared in the first half of 2020.

Not all businesses within retail trade, leisure and hospitality, or personal services had the same employment effects. Some businesses have actually boosted their employment and payrolls as business increased even as other businesses saw cutbacks and closures.

In terms of providing assistance to businesses during times of pandemic and afterwards, it is important to distinguish both between businesses that suffered and prospered but also to distinguish to what extent employees and payrolls were affected in different parts of each industrial sector.

Retailers - Employment

Retailers in Georgia that normally see employment losses in the first months after Christmas saw those employment and payroll losses continue into the second quarter of the year. Retail employment dropped 5 percent (-25,577 workers) between December and March, and then from April to June, retail trade employment lost another 3.3 percent (-16,098).

As a percentage of the labor force, the worse hit employment groups within the retail trade were clothing and clothing accessories stores, down 27.5 percent (-9,936 workers) in the second quarter of 2020; sports, hobby, music instrument, and book stores, down 16 percent (-2,269); and furniture and home furnishing stores that declined 14.8 percent (-2,691).

In contrast, some retailers saw significant growth in their workforces, including building material and garden supply stores, up 7.6 percent (3,187) and food and beverage stores, which includes grocery retailers, whose workforce rose by 7 percent (6,466).

General merchandise stores that carry a mix of groceries and other merchandise certainly picked part of the trade that might have otherwise gone to more specialized retailers, such as clothing stores, but as the numbers indicate, the general merchandise stores did not add sufficient employment to offset the employment losses by specialty retailers.

The same was true for the category of food and beverages stores, which includes grocery stores. Grocery stores added more than 6,400 people in the second quarter of the year, but this did not make up for the job losses among specialty retailers.

Retail industry groups by change in employment in Georgia from March to June 2020

·         Clothing and clothing accessories stores -27.47% (-9,936 employees)

·         Sports, hobby, music instrument, and book stores -16.04% (-2,269)

·         Furniture and home furnishings stores -14.78% (-2,691)

·         Miscellaneous store retailers -12.9% (-2,790)

·         Motor vehicle and parts dealers -7.89% (-5,391)

·         Electronics and appliance stores -3.88% (-643)

·         Gasoline stations 0.39% (120)

·         General merchandise stores 0.65% (677)

·         Food and beverage stores 7.01% (6,466)

·         Building material and garden supply stores 7.59% (3,187)

Retailers – Wages

As with employment, the total wages paid by retailers in Georgia declined significantly between March and June 2020. With some retail groups paying higher average wages than others, for some retail groups the impact of employment declines showed up differently than the employment impact.

Clothing and clothing accessories stores reported the largest decline in their total wage bill, dropping by more than 37.6 percent in the second quarter, followed by electronics and appliance stores, which posted declines of 22.8 percent.

In contrast, food and beverage stores saw their total wage bill increase by 10 percent, and gasoline stations posted payroll increases of 10.7 percent.

Arts, entertainment, and recreation - Employment

With restrictions on large gatherings of people, along with individuals’ own reluctance to participate in crowds due to concerns about Covid-19 contagion, entertainment and recreational venues have suffered severe employment losses.

Companies in the performing arts and spectator sports business saw the greatest decline in employment, down 37.4 percent (-4,196 employees) in the second quarter followed by accommodation businesses, which includes hotels, that marked a 32.5 percent (-15,554) drop.

Food services and drinking places, which includes both full-service and limited-service restaurants as well as bars, saw the largest decline in the number of employees with the percentage of their workforce dropping by 15.6 percent (-59,789).

Arts, entertainment, and recreation industry groups by change in employment in Georgia from March to June 2020

·         Performing arts and spectator sports -37.42% (-4,196)

·         Accommodation -32.48% (-15,554)

·         Museums, historical sites, zoos, and parks -17.26% (-608)

·         Food services and drinking places -15.6% (-59,789)

·         Amusements, gambling, and recreation -11.9% (-4,319)

Arts, entertainment, and recreation – Wages

Although food services and drinking places saw the largest decline in the number of employees, accommodation saw the largest decrease in its total wage bill, down 48.7%. Food services and drinking places recorded a 31% decline in payroll, while performing arts and spectator sports-related businesses saw their payroll drop by 26%.

Other Services – Employment and Wages

One area that is often overlooked are other services such as personal services and laundry services, membership organizations and associations, and private households.

Personal and laundry services in this category range from beauty salons and barber shops to nail salons, funeral homes, laundry services, and other services such as parking lots. These businesses saw employment drop in Georgia by 18.6% (-7,334) in the second quarter with payrolls declining by 27.6%.

Membership organizations and associations saw employment decreases of 12.5% (-3,306) and payroll drop by 13.7%. Private households, which are defined as including workers employed by individual families, saw a 3.5% decline in employment with payrolls dropping by 7.5%.

About the numbers

Information on employment and total wages by detailed industry is provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages and provides the most detailed information on American industries. Because of the level of detail and the use of administrative records, the data are highly accurate but are delayed in publication. Current information is available only through the end of June 2020. More information on the QCEW is available at Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages : U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (

Friday, December 4, 2020

90 percent of Georgia counties show net job losses in the first half of 2020


Over the first six months of 2020, 144 of Georgia’s 159 counties recorded a net loss in jobs. This compares to 56 counties showing job losses in the second half of 2019.

As a percentage of total employment, the largest job losses belonged to Twiggs County (-45%) followed by Warren (-29.5%) and Clayton counties (-22.7%).

Both Twiggs and Warren counties have relatively small labor markets, with Twiggs’ loss resulting in 1,481 fewer jobs and Warren losing 515 jobs. In contrast, Clayton County has a much larger employment base and its loss translated to 28,498 fewer jobs.

In terms of the number of jobs lost, Fulton County (Georgia’s largest county by employment) showed the largest loss with a decrease of 108,000 jobs (-11.8%) over the six-month period.

Oglethorpe County recorded the largest percentage gain in jobs with a 10% increase followed by Crawford County with a 9.7% rise. Both are relatively small in terms of their employment base with Oglethorpe adding 181 jobs while Crawford added 123 jobs over the six months.

In terms of net job gains, Jackson County had the largest increase with 417 (1.4%) new jobs.

Statewide, Georgia reported losses of 8.5% or -391,426 jobs between December 2019 and June 2020.

Clayton County

Among the 11 counties with the largest employments, Clayton County, GA, suffered the greatest percentage in job losses over the first six months of 2020. The county, part of the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell metropolitan statistical area, is also home to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and many of its jobs are located in the services sector.

The county saw more than 17,500 jobs disappear in its trade, transportation, and utilities sector and additional 4,600 jobs were lost in its leisure and hospitality sector, which includes hotels and restaurants.

The only sector to show a job improvement was in manufacturing, which added 477 jobs.

Table of Georgia Counties with net change and net percentage change in employment, 

December 2019 to June 2020

Monday, November 30, 2020

Pandemic-related job losses concentrated in Georgia’s 11 largest counties

All of Georgia’s 11 largest counties, as measured by employment size, saw significant drops over the first six months of 2020. Combined, the 11 counties recorded a net job decline of 10.2%. (-278,502 jobs). 

From June 2019 to June 2020, employment in the 11 counties dropped by 8.8% as a 1.6% increase in employment during the second half of 2019 was more than offset by the sharp declines in the first half of 2020. At the end of June, the 11 counties recorded a combined jobs total of 2,438,044, about the same level as at the end of June 2015. 

The job losses over the first half of 2020 were greater in those 11 largest counties than in the other 148 counties in the state. Georgia’s 148 other counties saw jobs decline by 6% (-112,924) in the first six months of 2020. Over the past 12 months, the 148 counties together reported job declines of 4.3% (-78,656). 

Statewide, Georgia recorded a drop of 8.5% (-391,426) jobs in the first six months of 2020 after a 1.7% increase (77,209 jobs) in the last six months of 2019. As of June, the state recorded a total of 4,196,040 jobs. 

County-level employment for Georgia’s 11 largest counties 

Clayton County, in the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA, MSA, recorded the largest drop over the first six months of 2020, down 22.7%; a loss of 28,498 jobs. The county is home to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and a portion of the county’s private sector employment is tied to the travel industry, which has felt much of the impact of travel restrictions related to the pandemic.

Forsyth County, a fast-growing suburban county located north of Atlanta and also in the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA, MSA, recorded the small employment percentage decline at 5.3%, a loss of 4,163 jobs. 

Job losses were not confined to large counties in the Atlanta area. Chatham County, part of the Savannah, GA, metropolitan statistical area, recorded a 9.6% net loss (-15,673) in the first half of 2020. 

Richmond County, part of the Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC, MSA, reported a 7.8% loss (-8.274). In the Columbus, GA-AL MSA, Muscogee County showed a loss of 6.7% (-6,535), and in the Macon-Bibb County, GA, MSA, Bibb County reported a loss of 7.2% (-6,007). 

Weekly wages 

The average weekly wage in the 11 counties declined by 1.2% over the first six months of 2020 to $1059.91. The overall decline was less than for the state as a whole, which saw the average weekly wage dropping by 1.3% to $1075. 

Over the 12 months ending in June, total payrolls in Georgia declined by 4% ($2.4 billion).

Employment information comes from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) program that publishes a quarterly count of employment and wages reported by employers covering more than 95 percent of U.S. jobs, available at the county, MSA, state and national levels by industry. Employment and average weekly wage data in Georgia were impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and efforts to contain it. Percentage may not add up to 100 due to rounding.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Georgia showing uneven recovery of jobs

 Georgia saw good job growth in the 3rd quarter of 2020 as its job market saw a partial recovery from massive job losses recorded in the first half of the year.

The state’s job market is now approximately the same size as it reported three years ago, in 2017, despite its population growth over the past three years.

Georgia Nonfarm Jobs, January 2016 to September 2020

Over the 3rd quarter of 2020 (July, August, and September), the state gained 84,500 nonfarm jobs, before seasonal adjustments. This compares to a loss of 300.000 jobs in the 1st half of 2020.

With the gains through September, Georgia’s nonfarm employment stood at 4,456,200 compared to 4,619,800 in September 2019 resulting in a net job loss of 163,600 or -3.5% over the past 12 months.

Recovering sectors

Virtually all sectors, both public and private, were damaged in the first half of 2020 in response to Covid-related slowdown. In the 3rd quarter, sectors showed recovery at different rates while some sectors have not recovered at all.

Notably, the number of jobs in retail trade in September have shown a strong rebound. In September, retailers reported employment of 505,100. In December 2019, retail trade jobs in Georgia numbered 509,500 reflecting normal Christmas-related hiring. As expected, retail jobs dropped by 14,500 in January after the holidays, but the latest growth brings the number of retail jobs in the state to a level 17,600 (+3.6%) above the level reached in September 2019.

Other industries showing recovery from losses earlier in the year include construction as well as warehousing and storage jobs. Both industries recorded job declines of more than 1% in the first half of 2020, but job gains in the 3rd quarter have offset those earlier losses.

Still suffering sectors

Not all sectors have been able to post rebounds in the 3rd quarter despite the state’s overall improved numbers.

Local government employment remained below where it stood at the end of 2019 and below the levels obtained in September 2019. From December to June, local government employment in Georgia dropped by 19,900 and then continued to decline by another 600 jobs from July through September. Over the past 12 months, local government jobs have fallen by 17,600.

Georgia Local Government Jobs, January 2019 - September 2020

Wholesale trade jobs showed a similar pattern, declining by 6,400 from December through June and then dropping another 1,900 jobs between July and September. Over the past year, the industry has shed 4,300 jobs.

Georgia Wholesale Trade Jobs, January 2019 - September 2020

Atlanta metro area

Metro Atlanta Nonfarm Jobs, January 2016 - September 2020

The Atlanta metropolitan area is the largest metro area in the state accounting for 62% of the state’s job market as of the end of 2019.

Over the first six months of 2020, the metro area saw net job losses of 216,100 or 72% of the job losses incurred statewide. Private sector jobs accounted for 199,200 of those losses over the first half of the year.

In the 3rd quarter of 2020, the Atlanta metro area saw job increases of 61,800, of which 57,900 were in the private sector. Over the past 12 months, the Atlanta area has experienced the loss of 106,300 jobs or -3.7%.

With the increases, jobs in the Atlanta metro area in September totaled 2,749,700, just above the 2,735,400 jobs recorded in September 2017.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Personal income in Georgia rises 28% due to unemployment insurance and economic impact payments

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis 

Personal income for Georgia’s residents rose sharply in the 2nd quarter of 2020 thanks to large payouts by the state unemployment fund and economic impact payments funded by the federal government. 

Wages declined by $16.8 billion over the three-month period.

Over the quarter, personal income increased by 28.5% at an annual rate in the 2nd quarter of 2020, below the national average, which rose by 34.2%.

Total personal income in Georgia equaled $558.88 billion in the 2nd quarter compared to $524.91 billion in the 1st quarter of the year and $510.46 billion in the 2nd quarter of 2019.  

While nonfarm income rose by $35.8 billion, farm income declined by $1.8 billion over the quarter.

The state’s personal income per capita rose to $52,184.

Changes in personal income components

Overall, personal income in Georgia rose by $33.9 billion in the 2nd quarter.

Net earnings of workers by place of residence dropped by $20.7 billion, and income from dividends, interest, and rent receipts declined by $2.1 billion.

These losses were offset by $56.8 billion increases in transfer receipts. The largest contributors to the rise in transfer receipts were economic impact payments financed by the federal government ($34 billion) and state unemployment insurance benefits ($14.7 billion).

Transfer payments include Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, state unemployment insurance, as well as boosts due to benefits provided by the CARES Act, expansion of eligibility of workers, not previously covered by state unemployment insurance, economic impact payments to individuals, and provider relief funds for nonprofit institutions, such as hospitals and health care providers.

More detailed information is available here.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Georgia’s reported Unemployment Rate decline is misleading

Georgia Labor Force, not seasonally adjusted, January 2019 to August 2020

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Georgia reported its August employment figures and highlighted a decline in its unemployment rate from 7.6% in July to 5.6%, after seasonal adjustment. The state headlined the claim that Georgia had achieved the seventh lowest unemployment rate in the nation.

Analyzing the data, a truer picture appears that is less positive than the overly optimistic story put out by the Georgia Department of Labor.

Unemployment rates in Georgia declined in August 2020, not because people found work, but because large numbers of people gave up searching for a job.

Even a cursory analysis would show that after seasonally adjusting the data, Georgia saw employment rise by 21,000 over the month, too few to account for the large decline in its unemployment rate.

Counting workers before seasonal adjustment, the actual number of people with jobs actually declined over the month by more than 12,000, while the number of people working in August 2020 fell by more than 303,000 below the number recorded 12 months ago.

Labor Force Statistics

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics defines the labor force to include all people age 16 and older who are either working or actively seeking work.

Statewide, Georgia’s labor force dropped by more than 128,000 over the month, according to information provided by the Georgia Department of Labor, Workforce Statistics & Economic Research. This decline in the labor force accounted for most of the drop in the unemployment rate.

Georgia’s lower unemployment rate compared to other states can be explained by the higher percentage of people in Georgia who gave up their job search.

Georgia recorded a 2.5% decline in its labor force in August. Nationwide, the number of people leaving the labor force declined by 0.25%.

Compared to August 2019, the state’s labor force declined by more than 203.000, which translates to a 4% drop. The nation’s labor force fell by 1.8% over the past 12 months.

Georgia’s population continues to increase so it is unlikely that those leaving the labor force also left the state. More likely, people became discouraged about their job prospects and decided to stop looking for work.

Georgia’s Metro Areas

All metro areas in the state reported decreases in their labor force compared to July and a year ago.

The Atlanta metro area is the largest job market in the state and recorded the largest decline in its labor force, dropping by more than 87,000 over the month and declining by more than 114,000 since last August.

The Dalton area, with its heavier reliance on manufacturing, recorded the largest percentage drop in August, down 3% over the month.

Brunswick MSA reported the largest over-the-year percentage labor force decline with a drop of more than 13%.

Georgia’s Regional Commissions

The state has set up 12 regional commissions to assist local governments in areas such as workforce devlopment. 

Among the commissions, the Atlanta Regional Commission, which includes the city of Atlanta and surrounding counties, recorded the largest labor force drop with a decline of more than 71,000 from July to August and a drop of more than 81,000 from August a year ago.

The area covered by the ARC accounted for 55% of the decline in the state’s labor force, even though it is home to 47% of the workers included in Georgia’s labor force numbers.

Over the month, the Three Rivers Regional Commission, which includes counties in West Central Georgia, recorded the largest percentage drop, down more than 3%.

Compared to last year, the Central Savannah River Area Regional Commission reported the largest decline, down more than 5.5%. The CSRA covers 13 counties in the eastern part of Central Georgia.

Dangers in using data in a misleading manner

Information, such as unemployment rates, are important economic indicators that help guide local, state, and national policymakers in their decisions affecting the economy.

When the numbers are misread or intentionally misreported, it can skew economic decisions regarding taxes, social programs, and economic development plans.

Decision makers and the public need a clear understanding of the current economic situation and providing misleading interpretations of the information available can result in poor economic decisions that damage the state’s future.

Georgia Labor Force estimates are available here.

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Georgia Labor Day 2020 by the Numbers

Georgia Private Sector Nonfarm Jobs, January 2019 - July 2020

Statewide employment 

Number of private sector nonfarm jobs in Georgia in July 2020: 3,734.000 

Number of private sector nonfarm jobs in Georgia in July 2019: 3,922,300 

Change from a year ago: - 188,300


Number of public sector jobs in Georgia in July 2020: 657,700 

Number of public sector jobs in Georgia in July 2019: 664,600 

Change from a year ago: - 6,900 

Statewide unemployment 

Initial claims 

Number of people filing for Georgia unemployment insurance benefits in the week ending August 22, 2020: 56,758 

Number of initial claims for the same week in 2019: 4,440 

Change from a year ago: + 52,318 

Insured unemployment 

Number of people receiving Georgia unemployment benefits in the week ending August 15, 2020: 553,713 

Number of people receiving benefits for the same week in 2019: 25,549 

Change from a year ago: + 528,164


Statewide costs for unemployment insurance benefits 

Amount of regular Georgia UI benefits paid in the past 24 weeks: + $3 billion 

Amount paid in the previous 7 years combined: $2.852 billion


Georgia metro areas private sector nonfarm jobs

(As of July 2020 / Change from July 2019)

Albany: 48,200 / - 2,400 

Athens-Clarke County: 67,100 / - 1,500 

Atlanta metro area (Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell): 2,381.800 / - 134,800 

Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC: 182,800 / - 13,500 

Brunswick: 30,200 / -6,400 

Columbus, GA-AL: 93,000 / - 5,300 

Dalton: 55,600 / - 3,800 

Gainesville: 79,800 / - 3,000 

Hinesville: 13,400 / + 200 

Macon-Bibb County: 83,600 / -5,100 

Rome: 35,900 / - 300 

Savannah: 152,200 / - 10,300 

Valdosta: 42,900 / - 400 

Warner Robins: 44,600 / - 5,100


Inflation in the Atlanta metro area (Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell)

(Percentage change in retail prices for the 12 months ending in June 2020)

All Items: + 0.9% 

Food: + 4.3% 

Housing: + 2.3% 

Electricity: - 14.3%               

New vehicle: + 2.4% 

Used cars and trucks: - 1.9%

 Gasoline: - 25.4%


Thursday, August 13, 2020

How bad is Georgia hurting? State receives first $85 million installment of $1.1 billion loan request for unemployment trust fund


In June, the Tax Foundation published a study of state unemployment insurance trust funds. 
Georgia ranked at #21 out of 50. Since then, the picture has continued to deteriorate.
Map Source: Tax Foundation

Before March, Georgia looked to have one of the more solvent unemployment insurance trust funds. 

That is no longer true, as Georgia is receiving an $85 million loan to replenish its unemployment trust fund, which is quickly running out of cash as the state’s insured unemployment rate remains elevated.

The funds are the first installment of a $1.1 billion request made to the U.S. Department of Treasury by Governor Kemp, as reported by The Center Square

Figures from the most recent Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims report published by the U.S. Department of Labor shows that 633,988 people in Georgia were receiving unemployment insurance benefits as of July 25, 2020, in contrast to the 25,618 people who received them a year ago. 

As of the end of July, the state’s insured unemployment rate stood at 14.4%. 

The Georgia Department of Labor announced that as of July 28, 2020, the trust fund balance was $585,483,621, down $1.962 billion, or 77 percent, from the March 24 balance of $2,547,476,454.  

Last month, Governor Kemp as the U.S. Department of Treasury to loan Georgia $85 million in August, $585 million in September, and $430 million in October. The current loan is the first installment related to that request. 

States that receive loans are expected to repay that money to the U.S. Treasury by either increasing state’s payroll tax on employers or from general funds. 

Interest is usually paid from the state’s general fund, and payroll taxes will most likely increase, potentially hurting workers and employers, Greg Georgia, director of the Center for Economic Analysis at Middle Georgia State University, told The Center Square. 

"When the state has to borrow money to supplement that fund now, that's probably general fund spending," George said. "So, it's just a way of spreading the pain to the broader taxpayer base." 

In June, the Tax Foundation conducted an analysis of the solvency of states’ unemployment insurance trust funds and noted that Georgia ranked 21st in its solvency level at 1.25. Any state with a solvency level of 1.0 or greater was deemed to have unemployment insurance sufficient to weather a recession. 

California ranked worse at number 50 with a solvency level of 0.21, while Vermont controlled the most solvent of the state trust funds with a solvency rank of 2.53. 

Despite the high number of claims being paid weekly by the Georgia Department of Labor, there are still accusations that the department has failed to pay all claims dating back to the middle of March. 

The state says it has paid benefits on 92% of valid claims since March. 

“As additional claims are being filed, we have been able to maintain an impressive ratio of eligible claims filed to payouts,” said Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. “Record breaking payout rates represent a new standard for this department as we strive to better serve Georgians.”

Monday, July 20, 2020

Job openings and separations in Georgia, 1st Quarter 2020

Compared to the nation, at the end of March, Georgia recorded a higher level of job openings, hires, and quits while posting a lower rate of total separations.

Experimental state-level data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic impact started later in the state than in the nation as a whole.

Job Openings

In the 1st quarter of 2020, Georgia recorded 656,000 employment openings compared to 680,000 in the 1st quarter of 2019.  Job openings for the first two months of 2020 were comparable to those in the first two months of 2019 but then dropped by 27,000 in March of 2020 compared to March 2019.

The state’s openings rate stood at 4.3% at the end of the 1st quarter compared to a 4.9% rate in the 1st quarter of 2019.

At the end of March, the national job openings rate stood at 3.7%.


The number of hires increased by 15,000 in the 1st quarter compared to the 1st quarter of the previous year. Hiring remained steady throughout all three months of 2020.

The hiring rate at the end of March stood at 3.7%, the same as at the end of March 2019.

Nationally, the hire rate ended the quarter at 3.1%.


Total separations include quits, layoffs and discharges, and other separations. Total separations is
referred to as turnover. Quits are generally voluntary separations initiated by the employee. 

Therefore, the quits rate can serve as a measure of workers’ willingness or ability to leave jobs. Layoffs and discharges are involuntary separations initiated by the employer.

Separations totaled 638,000 in the 1st quarter with separations rising each month in 2020 compared to the same three months in 2019. Separations in the 1st quarter of 2019 equaled 516,000.

At the end of March, the total separations rate was 5.4% compared to 3.7% in March 2019. For the nation, the total separations rate at the end of the 1st quarter was 9.3% compared to a 3.3% rate in March 2019.

Both the number of quits as well as layoffs and discharges in Georgia rose each of the first three months of 2020 compared to the first three months of 2019.

For the 1st quarter of 2020, the number of quits equaled 349,000, while the number of layoffs and discharges came to 258,000.

For the 1st quarter of the previous year, the number of quits totaled 315,000 while the number of layoffs and discharges reached 157,000.

At the end March 2020, the quits rate was 2.4%, the same as in March 2019, while the layoffs and discharges rate rose to 2.8% compared to 1.1% in March 2019.

For the nation, the quits rate stood at 1.6% and the layoffs and discharge rate was 7.4% at the end of March.

About state-level JOLTS data

Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) estimates are based on a national sample of approximately 16,000 establishments. These data are used by policymakers, academics, industry experts, economists, and others to better understand the current state of the U.S. economy and to understand the dynamic activity of businesses in the economy that lead to aggregate employment changes.

While the current national sample size is designed to support estimates for major industries at the national level and total nonfarm estimates at the regional level, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is currently researching the possibility of leveraging the sample to produce model-assisted estimates at the state total nonfarm level. These estimates are currently identified as experimental as updates to the models are incorporated into this new data series.

BLS is encouraging data users to review these estimates and provide input on both the technical aspects of the models and on the usability of the resulting data.

More information can be found at

Table A. Job openings, hires, quits, layoffs and discharges, and total separations rates for United States and Georgia, as of March 2020

Rates in Percent
Job Openings Rate
Hires Rate
Quits Rate
Layoffs & Discharges Rate
Total Separations Rate
United States

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Georgia job increases in May and June fail to offset losses in April

Nonfarm Employment in Georgia, January-June 2020
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Georgia saw 248,300 fewer jobs in the 2nd quarter of 2020 compared to the 1st quarter of the year. The unemployment rate fell to 7.6% in June, down from its May rate of 9.4%.

Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler was quoted as saying: “June was the first month to show positive numbers in all major indicators since the pandemic started. Although it is nice to see the pendulum move in the right direction, we are not na├»ve to the fact that we may see another tick up in claims over the next few months. We will continue to work unemployment claims both new and continued to ensure all Georgians are being taken care of during these unprecedented times.”

At the end of the 2nd quarter, employment in Georgia stood at 4,370,300 jobs having given up all the job gains it had made in the past four years.

In June, employment grew by 150,200 jobs, the second consecutive month of job growth after posting a revised net growth of 99,600 jobs in May.

Despite the two months of increases, there was net job loss for the quarter as growth in May and June could not overcome the loss of 498,100 jobs in April.

Over the past 12 months, the state has suffered a net loss of 239,800 jobs, its largest net loss of jobs since 2009.


The state’s unemployment rate remained elevated compared to the state’s 3.5% unemployment rate in June 2019. The percentage of the population employed in June rose to 54.9% up from 53.5% in May. A year ago, the state’s employment-population ratio stood at 60.0%.

In June, the number of unemployed in the state stood at 373,404, also a decrease from the numbers posted in April and May.

Employment by industry

While nearly all industries posted improvements in June compared to their April and May losses, nearly all industries showed job declines over the quarter.

Overall, the private sector posted a net loss of 226,200 jobs in the second quarter with significant quarterly net losses in the leisure and hospitality sector (-88,100), the professional and business services industry (-38,000), and in health care and social assistance (-18,500).

Although nearly every industry posted job gains in June, one exception was state government, which showed a net loss of 500 jobs in June. For the quarter, state government employment declined by 7,200. 

Only federal government employment in the state showed improvements over the quarter, rising by a net of 900 jobs in the 2nd quarter.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Georgia pays out record unemployment claims even as number of initial claims declines

The Georgia Department of Labor paid out a record amount of unemployment insurance benefits in the shortened July 4th week. The payments in the holiday-shortened week were almost 3x the amount issued for all of 2019.

Georgia Unemployment Rate, Seasonally Adjusted

Regular state and federal unemployment insurance benefit payments totaled over $857 million. Since mid-March, total unemployment benefits payments in Georgia have exceeded $8.5 billion.

In the first week of July, $148,071,716 in regular weekly state unemployment benefits were paid. Since March 21, over $2 billion has been paid in regular state unemployment insurance benefits.

The news comes even as Georgia reports a drop in initial claims for unemployment with 13,985 fewer initial claims in the week ending July 4th than in the previous week. For the week, initial claims totaled 103,590.

For the week ending June 20, the state counted a total of 661,233 people on its insured unemployment rolls compared to 24,973 for the same week in June 2019.

Georgia Unemployment Insurance Fund

Although the federal goverment is covering much of the cost of unemployment benefits currently through the month of July, regular state unemployment benefits continue to be paid by the state and are funded through a tax on employers. 

Normally, the rate an employer pays into the fund is based on their experience rating -- the number of workers drawing unemployment from a given employer.

As the state draws down the money in its unemployment insurance fund, it needs to determine if rates need to increase so the fund does not run out of money. Georgia has already decided that Covid-19-related claims will not be counted when calculating experience ratings.

Some states have already asked the federal government for assistance because their drawdowns of their unemployment insurance funds are already running low.

In Georgia’s case, despite the recent spike in claims, the state’s unemployment insurance fund remains solvent. Georgia is estimated to have sufficient funds to be able to pay between 1.0 to 1.5 years of benefits associated with an average recessionary period.

Solvency of State Unemployment Insurnace Funds Ability to Pay Over 12 Months 
Based on An Average Recession, as of January 2020

Looking ahead to 2021

Although Georgia’s unemployment fund is currently in good shape, it will need to be replenished. 

After the last recession, Georgia reduced the number of weeks for unemployment benefits from 26 to 14 weeks to reduce the need to increase taxes on employers.

Assuming that the state’s economy will not quickly recover from the current economic downturn, in 2021, the state will have to consider another reduction in benefits coverage, higher taxes on employers, lower weekly payout rates, or a combination of these options.

In addition to needing to rebuild the fund, there will be pressure to modernize the system, as workers complained that the current system left them without benefits for multiple weeks due to breakdowns in the processing system. The state will need to determine whether its computer infrastructure needs t be modernized or replaced and if so, how to pay for the changes.

Not only is the current downturn stressing employers and employees, it is also putting pressure on state politicians next year to find ways to rebuild the state’s unemployment insurance system so it can better serve employers and workers in the future.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Georgia personal income up 3.1% in the 1st quarter of 2020; nation rises by 2.3%

Personal income growth, 1st quarter 2020

Personal income in Georgia rose 3.1% at an annual rate in the first quarter of 2020 according to new information released by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The increase equaled the percentage gain in the 4th quarter of 2019 but fell short of the 6.1% gain recorded by the state in the 1st quarter of 2019.

For the U.S., personal income increased 2.3% in the first quarter of 2020, a deceleration from the 3.6% increase recorded in the 4th quarter of 2019.

For the 1st quarter of 2020, personal income in the state totaled $522.194 billion.

Personal income is the income received by, or on behalf of, all persons from all sources: from participation as laborers in production, from owning a home or business, from the ownership of financial assets, and from government and business in the form of transfers. It includes income from domestic sources as well as the rest of world. It does not include realized or unrealized capital gains or losses.

The report contains information for the months of January, February, and March and so comes before the shelter-in-place order given by Governor Kemp, which was effective on April 3. With the order, the state’s economy entered into a much slower period that will be reflected when information for the 2nd quarter is released later this year.

Types of income

BEA classifies personal income by components of net earnings; dividends, interest and rent; and transfer receipts.

Net earnings by place of residence is earnings by place of work less contributions for government social insurance, plus an adjustment to convert earnings by place of work to a place-of-residence basis.

Transfer receipts include items such as social security benefits, state unemployment benefits, and Medicare and Medicaid payments.

Over the first quarter of the year, of the $3.962 billion increase in personal income for the state, net earnings increased by $845 million; dividends, interest and rent added $711 million; and transfer receipts climbed by $2.407 billion.

In Georgia, net earnings contributed 0.7 percentage points towards the state’s 3.1% increase in the first quarter of the year with dividends, interest, and rent accounting for 0.5 percentage points and transfer payments accounting for 1.9 percentage points.

For the U.S., net earnings accounted for 0.2 percentage points of the nation’s 2.3% increase while dividends, interest and rent accounted for 0.5 percentage points, and transfer payments contributing 1.7 percentage points. 

Differences between the sum of the components and the totals shown are due to rounding of data.

Increases by industry

For the state, earnings grew fastest in the finance and insurance industry, up by $616 million followed by construction, which recorded increases of $369 million in the first quarter.

Earnings in the accommodation and food services industry declined by $800 million in the first three months of the year.

The largest percentage increases in earnings occurred in finance and insurance (+0.48%), construction (0.28%), and state and local government (0.27%).

The largest percentage declines were reported in accommodation and food services (-0.62%) and administrative and waste management services (-0.14%).

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Georgia recovers 15% of jobs lost in March and April; workforce at levels last seen in 2014

Georgia nonfarm employment, January 2014 - May 2020
After recording two months of job losses totaling 531,000, Georgia gained 79,600 jobs in May.

Both the size of March and April’s losses as well as the May gain are the largest on a record going back to 1990, which may explain why workers in the state may be feeling a bit uncertain as to the future.

The combination of losses and gains in the first five months of 2020 means that the state’s workforce is at the level it achieved in 2014, when the state's population included 500,000 fewer people. More than five years of employment increases have been wiped out in the first four months of 2020.

While most industries showed some level of recovery in the May numbers, three industries continued to suffer losses in May including government; transportation, warehousing, and utilities; and information.

For the first five months of 2020, the industries incurring the greatest net job losses include accommodations and food services (-149,400), professional and business services (-64,600), and education and health care services (-41,900).

Metro areas

Since the beginning of the year, the Atlanta metro area has suffered a net loss of 299,400 jobs. The loss would have been even greater if not for the 29,000 jobs added in May. The Atlanta metro area workforce is now back to levels recorded in 2015.

Although that net loss looks bad, it is better than the net losses suffered in some of the smaller metro areas in the state.

For instance, the Albany workforce in May 2020 now stands at 57,700, nearly the level it achieved in November 1992, a loss of more than 27 years’ worth of job gains.

The Augusta metro area, which includes a portion of South Carolina, has lost five years of job gains, while Savannah, the state’s third largest metro area, now has a workforce equal to its level six years ago.

Future Unclear

How long it will take the state and the state’s metro areas to recover to their 2019 levels of employment remains to be seen.

If May is of any measure, then the recovery may occur faster than after previous recessions but only if (1) consumers and businesses feel more confident about the economy, (2) the state, which is constitutionally mandated to have a balanced budget, avoids massive funding cutbacks that will impact employment, and (3) the state can avoid a second wave of the coronavirus-related shutdowns.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Georgia metro areas record double-digit job losses for April, Brunswick loses 24% of private sector employment

Atlanta Private Sector Employment, 2015-April 2020
Brunswick Private Sector Employment, 2015-April 2020

The impact of employment losses due to the coronavirus-related shutdowns reverberated throughout Georgia in April.


Statewide, more than 457,000 private sector jobs disappeared over the month plus another 18,500 jobs in government. Despite these losses, the state fared better than the nation.

Georgia recorded a net job loss of 10.3% in April with a private sector job loss of 11.7%. Both these percentages were better than for the nation as a whole, which reported net job losses of 13% and private sector job losses of 14.6%.

For the Atlanta metro area, which represents more than 60% of the state’s labor market, job losses in the private sector totaled 11.3%.

Smaller metro areas in the state recorded even larger percentage losses over the month.

The comparatively small Brunswick area saw 24% of its private sector jobs disappear in one month.

Savannah and Warner Robins saw more than 15% of their private sector jobs vanish in April, while Columbus, Ga., recorded private sector job losses of more than 12%.

The Rome area escaped relatively easily over the month with a job loss of 5%.

Albany, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus with Dougherty County reporting a case rate of nearly 2,000 per 100,000 population, actually only suffered job losses in line with the state average.

The losses were divided between goods producing industries and service-providing industries with goods producers shedding 10.1% of their jobs, while service-providing private companies lost 11.7% of their March employment.

Unemployment rates

Consistent with the job losses in April, unemployment rates in the state moved up sharply. Statewide, Georgia recorded an unemployment rate of 12.2%, before seasonal adjustment, although that remained below the nation’s rate of 14.4%.

Among metro areas, Dalton recorded the state’s highest unemployment rate at 20.5%. Both Savannah and Brunswick reported unemployment rates in excess of 15%.

Valdosta showed the lowest unemployment rate among the state’s metro areas at 9.9%.

Looking ahead

Georgia has been one of the first states to re-open its economy. Increases in employment due to the re-opening of businesses may be partially offset by losses in business as some individuals remain reluctant to possible exposing themselves to the virus by shopping, dining, etc.

That combination of factors makes it difficult to predict employment figures for May, although they will be closely watched by others in the nation to see how the state’s economy rebounds from its April losses.