Thursday, July 22, 2021

Georgia unemployment continued claims surge and then drop 40% after state stops federal aid

Continued unemployment claims in Georgia surged in the week before Georgia eliminated the $300 per week federal supplement to state unemployment benefits and then declined by almost 40 percent in the week following the ending of the supplement.

The number of continued unemployment claims rose from 144,750 reflecting the week ending June 19 to 178,850 in the week ending June 26, before declining to 106,266 reflecting the week ending July 3, 2021. 

Continued claims, also referred to as insured unemployment, is the number of people who have already filed an initial claim and who have experienced a week of unemployment and then filed a continued claim to claim benefits for that week of unemployment. 

The number of initial unemployment claims after the ending of the supplement and reflecting the week ending July, 3, dropped 27 percent, from 19,761 in the prior week to 14,475. 

Georgia ended the federal supplement effective June 27 and also ended programs that paid unemployment benefits to people who had not been eligible for benefits and people who had been receiving benefits longer than allowed under state law. 

According to the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget website, “In accordance with Governor Brian Kemp and Commissioner Mark Butler’s plan for reemployment and economic recovery, effective June 27, 2021, Georgia will no longer participate in the federal unemployment programs enacted through the CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan Act.” 

With the change, the maximum weekly benefit payable to eligible unemployed workers in Georgia dropped from $665 to $365. 

Nationally, the $300 weekly supplement is due to end September 6, 2021, and Georgia is one of a number of states that have chosen to end the supplement before the federal expiration date. 


Unemployment remains above 2018 and 2019 levels

While the number of continued unemployment claims in Georgia have fallen by more than 85 percent compared to a year ago, continued claims remain higher than for the same weeks in 2018 and 2019. 

Contrasted with the 108,266 continued claims for the week ending July 3, 2021, for the week ending July 4, 2018, continued claims totaled 32,731, and for the week ending July 6, 2019, continued claims were 30,818. 

For the first week of July in 2018 and 2019, the state’s insured unemployment rate was less than 0.8 percent. For the week ending July 3, 2021, the rate stood at 2.57 percent. A year ago, Georgia’s insured unemployment rate was 17.99 percent. 

The insured unemployment rate (percentage of covered employment) is Continued Claims (also called insured unemployment) divided by Covered Employment. This is different than the more normally cited unemployment rate, which is calculated regardless of whether individuals are receiving unemployment benefits.

State unemployment rules starting June 27, 2021 

The Georgia Department of Labor has announced that in accordance with the plan for reemployment and economic recovery, effective June 27, 2021, Georgia will no longer participate in the federal unemployment insurance (UI) programs enacted through the CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan Act: PUA, PEUC, FPUC and MEUC. This means the last payable week for these programs will be week ending June 26, 2021, even if there is a remaining balance. 

All eligible payments under any of these federal programs after the program ends will continue to be processed and issued to qualified individuals. This applies to individuals whose eligibility is later determined and unemployment benefits are payable for weeks ending on or before June 26, 2021. 

To be eligible for state Unemployment Insurance (UI), individuals must: 

  • Be unemployed through no fault of their own.
  • Be monetarily eligible (have enough wages from past employers to qualify).
  • Be able to work.
  • Be available for work.
  • Actively seek work.
  • Report your weekly work search.
  • Be registered with Employ Georgia.
  • Not refuse suitable work, if offered.

Georgia regulations allow claimants to receive up to 26 weeks of UI benefits. Eligible claimants will receive a weekly benefit amount ranging from $55 to $365 per week, based on their previous earnings.

Work search requirement reinstated Sunday, July 4, 2021

To continue to receive unemployment benefits workers are required to make a good faith effort to find another job as soon as possible. Unemployed workers can only be paid for weeks during which you actively seek work. Unless the Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) specifically exempts an individual from this requirement, job seekers are required to make a minimum of three new reportable job contacts each week. These contacts must be with employers not previously contacted. Employer contacts can include those made in person, by telephone, online or by résumés faxed, mailed, or emailed. 

More information on filing for unemployment benefits in Georgia can be found at Unemployment Benefits | Georgia Department of Labor


Sunday, July 18, 2021

Georgia job recovery continues to show progress

 

Georgia nonfarm employment, seasonally adjusted

Georgia’s labor market showed progress in June and the state’s economy continued to recover, although still falling short of its pre-pandemic levels.

The state’s unemployment rate reached 4.0 percent, a level still 0.4 percentage points higher than its 3.6 percent rate recorded in March 2020. Similarly, the number of unemployed in the state dropped by 5,005 to 208,033, after seasonal adjustment. This compared to 186,995 in March 2020.

Georgia added 32,800 nonfarm jobs in June, after seasonal adjustment, the largest one-month increase since August 2020.

The Atlanta metro area accounted for all of the net increase in jobs, adding 39,000 over the month. The Atlanta area has consistently accounted for 61 percent of the state’s labor market over the past two years.

With the June job figures, Georgia employment sits now at 4,521,000, 116,000 jobs fewer than in March 2020.

At 2,781,600, the Atlanta area job market is still short 82,700 jobs from the level it obtained in March 2020.

2nd Quarter 2021

In the three months (April to June), Georgia 38,100 jobs, after seasonal adjustment, compared to a gain of 33,100 jobs in the first quarter of the year. As a comparison, in the second quarter of 2019, the state added 13,700 jobs, while in the second quarter of 2020, the state lost 340,800 jobs as pandemic-related closures and business drop-offs impacted the state’s economy.

The Atlanta metro area added 44,100 jobs in the second quarter of 2021, compared to 9,300 in the second quarter of 2019, and a loss of 239,200 jobs in the second quarter of 2020.

All information has been seasonally adjusted, provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and is subject to revision.

End of pandemic-related unemployment benefits

The State of Georgia chose to end Federal pandemic unemployment benefits on June 26, 2021. This meant a loss of $300 to individuals receiving weekly unemployment benefits.

The Georgia Department of Labor has reinstated eligibility requirements for both claimants and employers that were waived during the pandemic.

As part of the change, employers will again be charged for unemployment benefits for those temporarily laid off or working few hours during the pandemic. It is anticipated that employers may become more aggressive in contesting former employees who apply for unemployment benefits.

The July unemployment figures will be watched closely to see what effect the decrease in weekly benefits will have on individuals seeking work.


Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Inflation in Atlanta advances: Consumer prices rise 1.8 percent over 2 months, 6.7 percent over the year

 

Consumer prices in the Atlanta metro area advanced 1.8 percent in the two months ending in June 2021, according to new information released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The change was the largest two-month increase in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers for Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell since June 2015. 

Food prices in the Atlanta area rose 1.4 percent, and energy prices increased 4.2 percent between April and June. The index for all items less food and energy increased 1.6 percent over the two-month period. 

Over the past 12 months, the rate of inflation in the Atlanta area was 6.7 percent, the largest 12-month increase since BLS began reporting bi-monthly data for the Atlanta CPI-U in 1999. Food prices rose 1.4 percent over the year, while energy prices increased 27.5 percent. The index for all items less food and energy advanced 5.8 percent. 

12-month inflation rates for selected major indexes 

Costs for food and beverages increased 1.7 percent, as prices for food at home rose 0.1 percent over the 12 months, while costs for food away from home increased 2.8 percent. 

Housing costs rose 4.1 percent with residential rents rising by 4.4 percent, and owners’ equivalent of rent costs increasing 3.9 percent. Costs for fuels and utilities were up 3.2 percent over the year, although electricity costs rose at a slower rate of 1.8 percent. 

Transportation costs increased 23.9 percent, as gasoline costs rose 59.3 percent over the year. Costs for new and used motor vehicles increased 23 percent. Excluding new vehicles, the cost for used cars and trucks was up 44.1 percent. 

Prices for medical care rose 0.3 percent for the 12 months ending in June, the lowest percentage increase of any of the major indexes. 

Looking at inflation over 24 months 

Disruption to consumers and businesses due to Covid-19 restrictions and shutdowns in 2020 appeared to have resulted in a significant decline in inflation rates as consumers cut back on their purchases. For example, the rate of inflation for the 12 months ending in June 2020 was 0.9 percent, a drop from the 1.1 percent increase recorded for the 12 months ending in June 2019. As a result, some of the inflation appearing currently is a catch-up of prices as business activity increases in 2021. 

One way of approaching this decline and then advance of prices is to take the measurement over two years, rather than a single year. For the two years ending in June 2021, the CPI-U for all items advanced 7.6 percent, or 3.8 percent each year over the past two years, a rate which is higher but still closer to the 12-month inflation rates appearing in 2017 for the Atlanta area. 

Using the same formula, the increase in inflation for all items less food and energy rose 8 percent over the past 24 months, or 4 percent each year. 

With the largest slowdowns of inflation occurring in the first half of 2020, the test of whether higher inflation rates are becoming embedded in the economy will come in future months as consumer prices reflect the gradual reopening of the economy that began in the fall of 2020. 

If the two-month increases remain at or above the 1.6 percent rates recorded for the Atlanta area in February and April 2021, then there will be more justification to be concerned over lingering inflation and its related problems. 

About the CPI for Atlanta 

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) for Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell measures a fixed market basket of goods and services for all urban consumers in the Atlanta statistical area. 

The Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA, Core Based Statistical Area is comprised of Barrow, Bartow, Butts, Carroll, Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, Coweta, Dawson, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Haralson, Heard, Henry, Jasper, Lamar, Meriwether, Morgan, Newton, Paulding, Pickens, Pike, Rockdale, Spalding, and Walton counties in Georgia.

For additional information, contact the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Southeast Information Office.


Monday, July 12, 2021

Emerging employment center: The Georgia High-Tech I-85 Corridor

 

The story of the Atlanta metro region has been a story of growth and expansion from the original core counties of Fulton and DeKalb outward, and the Georgia High-Tech I-85 Corridor in the northeast section of the state is an emerging labor market that deserves more attention.

As metro area employment has grown from 2.1 million in 2001 to 2.6 million in 2020, growth pushed out mainly to the north and northwest into northern Fulton County, as well as Cherokee, Cobb, Forsyth, and Gwinnett counties, along with the Gainesville, Ga., MSA that includes only north central Hall County.

One area that stands to benefit from continued metro Atlanta growth are the counties along interstate highway I-85 that connects Atlanta through Greenville, South Carolina, and Charlotte, North Carolina with Richmond, Virginia.

In all, six counties make up the labor market that is anchored at one end by fast-growing Gwinnett County, the corridor extends up to Hart County, which borders South Carolina. Other counties include Banks, Barrow, Franklin, and Jackson.

Lower land prices, access to growing centers, such as Atlanta using the I-85 interstate highway and rail freight lines, as well as a lower average wages related to a lower cost of living are encouraging increases in both population and jobs in the corridor.

Unlike Silicon Valley, or Boston’s Route 128 Technology Corridor, the I-85 corridor is likely to develop primarily with a manufacturing and distribution supply-chain focus.

Below is a profile of the corridor.

Population

Census Bureau figures show that the counties in or closest to the Atlanta metro area have shown the most growth from 2010 to 2019, while those farther away from Atlanta have slower growth rates but contain large areas of undeveloped land to accommodate future growth.

The six counties along the corridor posted a combined population growth rate of 16 percent over the nine-year period, compared to a 9.6 percent growth rate for the state. Jackson and Barrow counties each recorded growth of more than 20 percent over the past nine years, while Gwinnett County, with 80 percent of the six counties’ total population, grew at a remarkable 16.3 percent.

With population growth comes demand for additional goods and services and also an increasing labor force available to meet employers’ demands for workers.

Demographics

The Census Business Bureau tells that the six counties in the corridor have a higher percentage of the working age population in the labor force compared to the state (67.2 percent compared to 63.2 percent), with a lower percent in poverty (11.2 percent compared to 15.1 percent).

African-Americans make up 24.4 percent of the population compared to 31.6 percent statewide, while Hispanics (of any race) make up 18.7 percent compared to 9.5 percent statewide. Nearly 22 percent of the population is foreign-born, where that percentage drops to 10.1 percent for the state. It is likely that the largest proportion of the foreign-born reside in Gwinnett County with fewer as you travel towards the state border.

As an aside, the number of people who spoke an Asian or Pacific Island language at home was nearly 3x as large in the corridor counties (3.4 percent vs. 1.1 percent statewide). Again, it is likely that Gwinnett County residents have a large impact on these numbers.

Employment

From the end of 2001 through 2020, employment in the corridor has increased by nearly 28 percent compared to Georgia’s statewide gain of nearly 16 percent.

Gwinnett County, on the southwest end of the corridor, currently makes up over 80 percent of the corridor’s labor market, so that one county has a huge influence on the corridor’s employment statistics. While the Gwinnett County’s private sector employment has grown by more than 53,000 jobs, the other five counties in the corridor have added an additional 30,000 jobs, resulting in an employment growth rate of nearly 28 percent since the end of calendar year 2001.

Goods-producing and goods distribution has been particularly strong in the counties that make up the corridor. With lots of undeveloped land close to a major metro area and along an interstate highway and rail system, the corridor smaller losses in manufacturing employment compared to the state over the past 19 years while recording larger increases in employment in transportation and warehousing.

Since 2001, manufacturing employment has declined by 17 percent, while employment in transportation and warehousing have risen by 2.5x. In comparison, the state’s manufacturing dropped by 23 percent, while employment in transportation and warehousing grew by 36 percent.

If reshoring of manufacturing, as being now discussed, becomes a fact, it is likely that the counties along the corridor will benefit disproportionately.

The announcement of creation of a new inland port tied to the Port of Savannah in neighboring Hall County will also support manufacturing and warehousing in the adjacent counties of Banks and Jackson counties.

Wages

As for wages, compared to the average annual private sector pay of $67,068 for the Atlanta metro area in 2020, average annual pay in the six counties ranged from $36,431 in Banks County to $58,224 in Gwinnett County, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages. This compares to average private sector pay in Georgia at $59,805, and $64,238 for the U.S.

For goods-producing industries (a sector that includes natural resources, construction, and manufacturing), average pay ranged from $45,757 in Franklin County to $67,842 in Gwinnett County, with the state averaging $61,461.

Average income in the six-county corridor was $87,284, $4,800 more than for Georgia as a whole.

Conclusion

The Georgia High-Tech I-85 Corridor represents an emerging labor market located along a major north-south interstate highway and near the growing Atlanta metropolitan region. Emerging labor markets can be difficult to neatly define, as they are not usually included in the regular definitions of statistical areas designated by Federal statistical agencies such as Census and Bureau of Labor Statistics, but that makes watching them grow even more interesting.

Continued economic growth in the Southeast, along with manufacturing reshoring and the possibility of increased exports through the Port of Savannah, will all contribute to the corridor’s economic future.


Saturday, July 3, 2021

More economic indicators point to a strong recovery in Georgia’s economy

 


If the drop-off in Georgia’s economy in the first quarter of 2020 was dramatic, then it is equally useful to use that same word “dramatic” to describe the shape of the state’s recovery in early 2021.

New government surveys provide additional light on how strongly Georgia’s economy is rebounding after Covid-19 closures and restrictions throttled Georgia’s economy a year ago.

Business Formations Survey

The first step for an individual wishing to set up a new business is an application for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) that can grant the company or nonprofit enterprise other benefits such as applying for a business license or to hire employees.

The Census Bureau tracks the number of EIN applications as an economic measure of early-stage business activity. Even during the initial pandemic shutdown months in the first quarter of 2020, the number of applications for EINs in Georgia remained high with more than 85,000 applications received between January to May 2020. (Business Formation Statistics (BFS) (census.gov))

For the first five months of 2021, this number almost doubled to more than 163,000 applications indicating a large interest in the formation of new businesses in the state.

Data on business formations by county lag the statewide numbers, but Census has just released data for Georgia counties in 2020.

As expected, the counties with the largest existing employment also tend to have the largest number of new business formations, and since these are in the Atlanta metro area, counties in the Atlanta metro area lead the list. In 2020, Fulton County reported 51,935 applications, up by more than 18,000 from 2019. DeKalb County was second with 31,442 applications (up by almost 13,000) and followed by Gwinnett County with 29,296 (up by almost 8,9000) and Cobb County at 23,941 (up by more than 7,6000). Clayton County came in fifth on the list with 14,733 new applications, up by more than 7,400 over 2019. No other Georgia county showed greater than 10,000 new applications in 2020.

Counties showing fewer applications in 2020 as compared to 2019 included Rabun, Evans, Glascock, Towns, and Colquitt counties.

Because a company that ceases operations may still retain their EIN, there is no information on the number of companies that may have ceased operations.

Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey

Job openings in the state reached 313,000 in March 2021, up from 170,000 for the same month a year ago, while the number of layoffs and discharges fell from 293,000 in March 2020 to 51,000 in March 2021, according to new information released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as part of their experimental Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey states estimates (JOLTS Experimental State Estimates).

While job openings express a level of optimism on behalf of employers, the number of hires represent a real economic cost to employers, and here again, hires in Georgia in March totaled 193,000 compared to 147,000 a year ago. The hires rate for the state came in at 4.3 compared to 3.2 last year.

Equally impressive, the number of voluntary quits increased over the year from 76,000 in March 2020 to 124,000 in March 2021 with the Quits rate jumping from 1.6 to 2.8. Quits are seen as an important indicator as how much confidence workers have in their ability to find a new position. While the quits rate has been higher in the past, the current level still shows optimism from workers about their employment futures, at least sufficiently that they believe they are finding better opportunities by changing jobs.

Current Employment Statistics

For all the positive indicators highlighted above, the good news on Georgia’s economic picture must be tempered by the recognition that the state has not yet completely regained levels reached before the 2020 economic downturn.

In May, Georgia achieved an unemployment rate of 4.1 percent, much better than the 9.4 percent rate in May 2020, buy still above the 3.6 percent rate in May 2019, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In the same manner, while the number of unemployed in the state has been cut in half since last May, it is still some 28,000 higher than in May 2019, while the state’s nonfarm employment is still 125,000 short of its May 2019 level.

Georgia nonfarm employment, Jan. 2019 to May 2021, seasonally adjusted


All this points to the fact that while the state’s economy continues to make a record rebound from the 2020 downturn, the state’s labor force needs continued employment growth to catch up with its pre-Covid job levels.