Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Unemployment data went the wrong way in Georgia during August

 In what may be a harbinger of slower economic times, 6 of Georgia’s 13 metropolitan areas showed increases of 0.3-0.4% in their unemployment rates in August compared to the previous month. Only the Dalton area showed no change over the month.

In some circumstances, increases in the rate of unemployment would not be a concern and might even be seen in a more positive light.

For example, small changes in unemployment rates (0.0-0.1%) could be simple variation in small statistical samples. Such changes should be ignored month-to-month and be focused on over-the-year changes.

Even larger changes in unemployment rates could be seen in a positive light if the rise was because people who were previously outside the labor market chose to rejoin. Those “labor market re-joiners” would increase the areas’ labor forces while falling into the ranks of the unemployed as they search for a position.

Unfortunately, in 10 of the 13 areas, and most significantly including the state’s largest labor market of Atlanta, the labor force declined in August.

In the Atlanta metro area, the labor force declined by 14,859 as the number of employed dropped by 20,468 and the number of unemployed increased by 5,609 resulting in the unemployment rate increasing by 0.2% to 3.0%.

If there is any good news from the latest reports compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is that unemployment rates remain well below their levels in August 2021.

In August 2021, the Atlanta unemployment rate stood at 3.9%. Whereas, in August 2021, Albany posted the highest unemployment rate among the state’s metro areas at 5.2%, in August 2022, Albany’s rate had dropped to 4.2%, although still the highest among the metro areas.

The Gainesville, Ga., area posted the lowest rate in both August 2021 and 2022, dropping from 2.7% last year to 2.5% presently.

 Even as the state's nonfarm job numbers rose by 15,800 in August, after seasonal adjustment, the rise in unemployment coupled with declines in the labor force show that even Georgia is not immune to a slowdown in the national economy related to rising interest rates.

List of Georgia metro area unemployment rates, August 2022

Albany, 4.2%

Athens, 2.9%

Augusta, 3.5%

Brunswick, 3.1%

Columbus, 3.9%

Dalton, 3.6%

Gainesville, 2.5%

Hinesville, 3.3%

Macon, 3.5%

Rome, 3.1%

Savannah, 2.9%

Valdosta, 3.2%

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