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.