Showing posts with label Georgia jobs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Georgia jobs. Show all posts

Friday, November 19, 2021

Georgia unemployment rate drops to 3.1%; jobs increase by 21,100 in October

Unemployment rate in Georgia declined while the number of jobs in the state rose in October, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Georgia’s unemployment rate stood at 3.1 percent in October, and the state saw a net increase of 21,100 jobs. Numbers are preliminary, subject to revision, and have been seasonally adjusted.

Georgia unemployment

The state’s unemployment rate reached a series low of 3.1 percent in September as the number of employed people rose by 11,008 and the number of unemployed dropped by 12,897.

Labor force declined by 1,889 persons in October after increasing in each of the four previous months. As a result, Georgia’s labor force participation rate was 61.5 percent in October. Labor force participation is calculated by combining the number of people counted as employed with the number counted as unemployed to determine the state’s labor force.

Employment-population ratio remained unchanged in October at 59.6 percent. The employment-population ratio is the percentage of the state’s estimated population who are employed.

In October 2020, the state’s unemployment rate stood at 5.9 percent with a labor force participation rate of 61.7 percent and an employment-population ratio of 58.1 percent.

Georgia jobs

The state saw a net increase of 21,100 jobs in October with the private sector increasing by 22,300, while government jobs dropped by 1,200.

Over the month, the largest increases were in the transportation, warehouse, and utilities sector with an increase of 3,600 jobs followed by the addition of 3,400 jobs in education and health care services. Manufacturing employment rose by 3,300 and professional and business services increased by 3,200. Retail trade employment rose up by 3,000.

State government jobs declined by 500 and jobs in local governments decreased by 400.

Since October 2020, Georgia has seen a net increase of 196,900 jobs resulting in a 4.5 percent growth rate.

Jobs in the private sector rose by 198,900 (5.3 percent) and government jobs declined by 2,000 (-0.3 percent).

Over the past year, jobs in the professional and business services sector have increased by 60,400, up by 8.7 percent. Employment in the leisure and hospitality sector has risen by 31,300, a 7.5 percent increase.

Transportation, warehouse, and utilities accounted for the largest percentage increase over the year, up by 9.9 percent, or 23,300 jobs. Employment in the education and health care services sector rose by 23,300 (4 percent).

State government employment has declined by 300 jobs (-0.2 percent), while local government jobs rose by 2,100 (0.5 percent).

Friday, August 20, 2021

Georgia did not reached its pre-pandemic employment levels in July


Georgia released its statewide employment data for July 2021 on August 19. In announcing that the state’s unemployment rate had dropped to 3.7 percent, the Georgia Department of Labor news release headline read: 

Unemployment Rate Drops to Pre-Pandemic Level in July (GDOL News Release)

 While the good news is that the state’s unemployment rate did drop by three-tenths of one percent from June to July, the state has not yet achieved the levels it had gained in March 2020 before pandemic-related cutbacks and closures caused a sharp increase in the state’s unemployment rate and an equally sharp contraction of its employment levels. 

Unemployment rate

In October 2019, the state reported a record low unemployment rate of 3.3 percent, which it maintained through January 2020; but by February, the rate was starting to creep upwards, reaching 3.6 percent in March 2020.   

Layoffs exploded in April 2020, with the state reporting an unemployment rate of 12.5 percent. Since then, there has been a continual reduction in the unemployment rates up to the present.

Unemployment rates are typically published to only one decimal point, but it is possible to carry out the calculation to multiple decimal points and carrying out the calculation to four decimal points, one can see that the March 2020 rate was technically 3.5923 percent. 

This compares to the July 2021 rate of 3.7421, or a difference of 0.1498 percentage points, which falls within the limits of what the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics would call statistically insignificant, so the State of Georgia chose to declare it had reached the pre-pandemic level of March 2020 because the state labor agency could technically defend the statement. 

The Georgia Commissioner of Labor, Mark Butler, could have waited until the August numbers are published to confirm that that the state’s unemployment rate had reached pre-pandemic levels, but that would have been taking the risk that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for August might not continue to show a decline. 

Labor force, employment, and unemployment

While the number of unemployed in Georgia has steadily declined as the number of people employed has increased, neither measure equals the levels achieved in March 2020. 

From March 2020 to July 2021, the number of unemployed has increased by 6,491, while the number of employed individuals has dropped by 41,424. 

As a result, the state’s labor force, which is by definition a combination of employed and unemployed, has actually declined by 34,933, or nearly 0.7 percent. 

This brings the state’s labor force slightly below the level it reached in October 2019, even though the state’s population has continued to increase. 

The situation is also reflected in other data published by BLS for Georgia. Georgia’s labor force participation rate has declined from 62.9 percent in March 2020 to 61.7 percent in July 2021. Labor force participation rate is defined as representing the number of people in the labor force as a percentage of the civilian noninstitutional population. In other words, the participation rate is the percentage of the population that is either working or actively looking for work. 

Georgia’s employment-population ratio has also dropped from 60.7 percent in March 2020 to 59.4 percent in July 2021. The employment-population ratio represents the number of employed people as a percentage of the civilian noninstitutional population. In other words, it is the percentage of the population that is currently working. 

What happened to these people? Statisticians do not know. Some may have chosen to retire, others may have simply dropped out of the labor force. Whether and when they will re-enter the labor force is also unknown. What is known is that there is a group of former workers who so far have not been re-employed as of July 2021, so implying that the state has fully recovered its pre-pandemic levels seem premature at best. 

Nonfarm employment


The State of Georgia and BLS also publish a separate monthly survey of nonfarm jobs, and this also confirms that the state has not yet reached its pre-pandemic levels. 

In July 2021, nonfarm jobs in Georgia totaled 4,572,100. While this was a good increase from June (up by 43,600), it still leaves the state 64,900, or 1.4 percent, short of the number obtained in March 2020 and more than 94,000 jobs short of the highest level achieved in February 2020. 

Much of this shortfall can be attributed to the disappearance of jobs in the Atlanta metro area, where July’s jobs total of 2,797,200 is still 67,100 jobs below the level it achieved in March 2020, and 89,500 short of its peak in January 2020. 

Whether the state, and the nation, can continue to grow its employment base remains to be seen, as Covid-related variants raise questions about the ongoing strength of the economy through the end of 2022, but in any case, there is still more work to be done to re-establish all the employment that has been lost from the pre-pandemic time.


Note: All data discussed are seasonally adjusted. Seasonal adjustment is a statistical procedure that removes the effects of normal seasonal variations—resulting from events such as holidays, school openings and closings, and weather—from data series. Seasonally adjusted data make it easier to observe cyclical and other economic trends, such as those associated with general economic expansions and contractions. For further information, see Seasonal adjustment of Current Population Survey (CPS) estimates.

Charts are from the website.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Georgia unemployment claims drop but remain at elevated levels

 Initial claims for unemployment benefits in Georgia declined by 3,254 to 10,152 in the week ending July 31, 2021, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration. The decline offset the rise of 1,421 claims in the previous week. In comparison, the state recorded 62,335 initial claims for the week ending August 1, 2020.

For the four weeks ending July 31, initial unemployment claims in the state fell by 24 percent, approximately the same percentage decline recorded in the previous four-week period in June.

Initial claims fell significantly in the week ending June 26, after Georgia chose to end $300 per week Federally-funded unemployment benefits, but have slowed their descent since that date.

Claims still remain elevated well-above their pre-Covid numbers, when weekly claims averaged closer to 5,300 in February and March 2020, before Covid-related cutbacks and shutdowns caused the sharp acceleration in mid-March of 2020.

An initial claim is a claim filed by an unemployed individual after a separation from an employer. The claimant requests a determination of basic eligibility for the UI program. When an initial claim is filed with a state, certain programmatic activities take place and these result in activity counts including the count of initial claims. 

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, the count of U.S. initial claims for unemployment insurance is a leading economic indicator because it is an indication of emerging labor market conditions in the country. 

Continued claims

Continued unemployment claims declined by -2,765 to 87,963 in the week ending July 31, 2021. In contrast, continued claims totaled 572,455 in the week ending August 1, 2020. For the comparable week in 2019, the state recorded 25,319 continued claims.

A person who has already filed an initial claim and who has experienced a week of unemployment then files a continued claim to claim benefits for that week of unemployment. On a weekly basis, continued claims are also referred to as insured unemployment, as continued claims reflect a good approximation of the current number of insured unemployed workers filing for UI benefits. 

The U.S. Labor Department’s Employment and Training Administration argues that a count of U.S. continued weeks claimed is also a good indicator of labor market conditions. While continued claims are not a leading indicator (they roughly coincide with economic cycles at their peaks and lag at cycle troughs), they provide confirming evidence of the direction of the U.S. economy. 

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Georgia unemployment claims leveling off after benefit cutback effects fade

 When Georgia chose to end its involvement in the additional $300/week unemployment benefits being provided by the Federal government, Governor Kemp stated as its reasoning: 

“We've got to get more people in the work force," Kemp said on America's Newsroom. "We have a record number of jobs in Georgia. Georgia is open for business!” (WTGS

As a result of the state’s decision, effective June 26, 2021, Georgia’s unemployment benefits reverted back to its usual unemployment rules with unemployment benefits ranging from a minimum weekly benefit of $55 and the maximum of $365 based on the amount of wages earned in the base period for a maximum period of 20 weeks (Georgia DOL website). 

With several weeks of information on the state’s unemployment insurance claims now available, we can draw some tentative conclusions about the effect of that decision on the number of people in Georgia requesting unemployment assistance. 

Georgia initial claims 

A review of Initial unemployment claims in Georgia show a pattern of decline over a two-week period from 19,761 reflecting the week ending June 26, down to 12,605 for the week ended July 10. From that point, the number of initial claims has remained steady at approximately 12,000 each week for following two weeks, reflecting the weeks ending July 17 and July 24. 

Between the weeks ending June 26 and July 24, the weeks since the change in unemployment benefits, Georgia has seen a 7,095 decline in initial claims; a drop of 36 percent. 

An initial claim is a claim filed by an unemployed individual after a separation from an employer. The claimant requests a determination of basic eligibility for the UI program. When an initial claim is filed with a state, certain programmatic activities take place and these result in activity counts including the count of initial claims. 

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, the count of U.S. initial claims for unemployment insurance is a leading economic indicator because it is an indication of emerging labor market conditions in the country. 

North Carolina initial claims 

While Georgia declined to continue providing Federally-funded unemployment benefits to its citizens, North Carolina has chosen to maintain the $300/week Federal payment in addition to the state’s $350/week maximum benefit. 

For the same time period, reflecting weeks ending June 26 to July 24, North Carolina saw a slight increase in the number of initial unemployment claims, from 4,879 in the week ending June 26 to 5,118 in the week ending July 31, a nearly 5 percent increase.

 North Carolina’s governor chose to veto a bill that would have ended the enhanced Federal benefit before its expiration date in early September. 

“Unemployment is declining with more people getting vaccinated and into the workforce as North Carolina has strengthened work search requirements for those receiving benefits. The federal help that this bill cuts off will only last a few more weeks and it supplements North Carolina’s state benefits, which are among the stingiest in the country. Prematurely stopping these benefits hurts our state by sending back money that could be injected into our economy with people using it for things like food and rent. I support strong efforts to make more quality childcare available and to provide businesses with funds for hiring bonuses and the bill falls short on both of these,” Gov. Cooper said. (WBTV

Continuing claims 

Both Georgia and North Carolina have seen a steady decrease in continued unemployment claims since early July. Georgia did see a 23 percent jump between the weeks ending June 19 and June 26, but since then continued claims have declined by 51 percent. Since the end of May, continued claims in Georgia have dropped by 40,855 (-31 percent). 

In North Carolina, there was no spike between June 19 and June 26. Since the end of May, continued claims in North Carolina have dropped by 9,648 (-21 percent). 

A person who has already filed an initial claim and who has experienced a week of unemployment then files a continued claim to claim benefits for that week of unemployment. On a weekly basis, continued claims are also referred to as insured unemployment, as continued claims reflect a good approximation of the current number of insured unemployed workers filing for UI benefits. 

The U.S. Labor Department’s Employment and Training Administration argues that a count of U.S. continued weeks claimed is also a good indicator of labor market conditions. While continued claims are not a leading indicator (they roughly coincide with economic cycles at their peaks and lag at cycle troughs), they provide confirming evidence of the direction of the U.S. economy. 


While a longer pattern of weeks will provide a more complete picture, some preliminary judgments are possible. 

Initial unemployment claims in Georgia, which were already showing weekly declines before the week ending June 26, continued dropping until the week ending July 10. Those drops continued but accelerated after the week ending June 26 for a couple of weeks before leveling off at a point lower than during the 2020 Covid year but higher than in the pre-Covid summers of 2018 and 2019. 

It is impossible to say whether the weekly decline might have occurred even if the $300 payments had continued in Georgia, but the most recent weeks indicate that any incentive brought about by the $300 loss in benefits at the end of June appears to have been outweighed by other factors such as the number of job opportunities available that will utilize workers’ past experiences, employees’ reluctance to return to work in conditions that might expose them to Covid-19 and its variants, inability to find work at suitable pay levels, as well as other issues such as family responsibilities that require at-home attendance of relatives and children. 

Certainly the loss of $300/week weighed on unemployed workers personal budgets, whether it produced a dramatic longer-term rise in the availability of labor remains problematic.

Georgia Initial Claims Data 

Number of initial claims reflecting the week ending: 

5/22/2021    24,622

5/29/2021    22,240

6/05/2021    22,524

6/12/2021    20,698

6/19/2021    20.749

6/26/2021    19,761

7/03/2021    14,475

7/10/2021    12,605

7/17/2021    11,985

7/24/2021    12,666

 Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration

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.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Atlanta job market: Quick to lose jobs but some counties are slow to recover


After losing more than 5 percent of its jobs in 2020, the Atlanta metro job market is showing signs of only a slow recovery. Through March 2021, nonfarm jobs in the Atlanta metro area stood at 2,728,100, before seasonal adjustment, compared to 2,901,200 at the end of 2019.

In 2020, the metro area lost 159,600 jobs, of which 149,300 were in the private sector with the remainder being decreases in government employment.

Over the first three months of 2021, the metro area lost another 13,500 jobs. While it is not unusual to see job losses in the post-Christmas season, the losses in the first quarter of 2021 were greater than for the comparable period in 2019 when the Atlanta metro area posted a net job loss of 6,500 jobs between January and March.

Because losses are expected during certain times of the year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes a seasonally adjusted report as well, but the comparison with 2019 remains the same. In the first three months of 2021, BLS reported that the Atlanta metro area saw a net job gain of 23,800 jobs after seasonal adjustment, but this was down from the 32,900 job gain for the same period in 2019.

Shifts in the Atlanta job market varies by county

While jobs data tend to focus on the Atlanta metro area as a whole and most jobs data can only be measured at the metro area level, within the Atlanta metro area, the jobs picture for the first quarter of 2021 does vary considerably.

There is no current data that breaks out jobs data by county for the first quarter of the year, but labor force numbers produced by a separate BLS survey reveals that the diversity of job growth in some of the largest and fastest growing counties that comprise the Atlanta metro area.

Gwinnett County recorded an increase of nearly 3,600 in its labor force over the first three months of the year (before seasonal adjustment), while Cherokee and Forsyth counties have posted labor force increases of around 1,400 each.

In contrast, Clayton County is showing a decline of nearly 1,300 in its labor force, while DeKalb County’s labor force fell by 577 and Fulton County (the largest county in the state) recorded a drop of 245 in its labor force.

The changes highlight the fact that the metro area is not growing uniformly but that some of the largest growth is occurring outside the traditional core Atlanta counties of Fulton and DeKalb.

Moving forward, this represents a shift in the economic development fortunes of the various Atlanta-area counties, and if it continues, strengthens the case for looking not at the Atlanta metro area as a single region but understanding how counties are taking different economic growth patterns.

Comparisons with statewide figures

Even though the Atlanta metro area represents more than 60 percent of the state’s job market, the state is posting a much better recovery than the Atlanta area.

After seasonal adjustment, Georgia showed a gain of 36,200 jobs in the first three months of 2021. This compares to a gain of 30,200 jobs for the same time period in 2019.

Statewide, before seasonal adjustment, Georgia added 200 manufacturing jobs in the first quarter of 2021 even as the Atlanta metro area lost 1,700 manufacturing positions. Jobs in durable manufacturing in the state dropped by 1,400 but were offset by a 1,600 job rise in nondurable manufacturing facilities. For the Atlanta metro area, durable manufacturing jobs dropped by 700 with another 1,000-job loss in nondurable manufacturing.

In service-providing industries, the Atlanta metro area accounted for 73 percent of the state’s net job losses in the first quarter. Georgia saw a loss of 19,700 jobs in the first quarter of 2021, before seasonal adjustment, compared to a loss of 14,400 jobs in the Atlanta metro area.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Transportation and warehousing industry job growth in Georgia demonstrate contrasts in employment during 2020


The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has released their final employment estimates for 2020, and transportation and warehousing employment stands out as the bright spot in Georgia's employment picture. 

Although the industry suffered losses in the first months of 2020, it rebounded quickly and finished out the year with a net gain of 7,200 jobs, while overall private sector employment in the state fell by 185,700. 

Both the losses and gains in employment reflect the changes undergone by the state’s economy as the coronavirus impacted the state’s job market. As people turned away from travel and in-person shopping, they increased their online and food delivery purchases. These changes are clearly reflected in the state’s employment numbers. 

Within the transportation and warehousing industries, employment in air transportation fell by 6,600 and trucking jobs declined by 400. These losses were offset by gains of 5,500 in couriers and messengers, and 10,000 in warehouse and storage. 

Both couriers and messenger and warehouse and storage occupations hit their highest level in their statistical series, which began in 1990. 

As expected, the leisure and hospitality sector showed the most significant job losses in Georgia, with employment decreasing by 78,800 over the year, a drop of 15.8 percent. 

The next largest decline occurred in other services, where employment dropped by 17,200, or 10.3 percent. Other services include businesses involved in equipment and machinery repairs and maintenance; as well as providing personal services such as laundry and housekeeping; and organizations supplying religious, grantmaking, and advocacy services. 

While the private sector saw a 4.6 percent employment decline, the public sector was affected as well. Government jobs located in Georgia dropped by 21,200 or 3 percent. 

The unanswerable question is to what extent people will revert to their previous habits, or may choose to adopt their newer choices as their customs from this point forward. 

Effective with these data, all nonfarm payroll employment estimates for have been adjusted to 2020 benchmark by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Not seasonally adjusted data beginning with April 2019 and seasonally adjusted data beginning with January 2016 were subject to revision. Some not seasonally adjusted and seasonally adjusted series may have been revised as far back as 1990.   

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Job losses in 2020 concentrated in larger metro areas in Georgia


Map source: By DoubleZ OTP - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

In 2020, Georgia recorded a net job loss of 77,700 jobs, before seasonal adjustment, which represented a 1.7 percent decline over the year. The net loss of jobs was the first recorded for the state since 2009.

Job losses were not evenly distributed across the state. The effect of the coronavirus on job growth and losses in 2020 becomes obvious when comparing statewide job losses to those in the metro areas of the state.

The Atlanta metro area, which constitutes the state’s largest labor market, accounted for more than 90 percent of the state’s net losses in 2020 resulting in a decline of 2.5 percent (-72,500 jobs). For more than a decade, the story in Georgia has been the persistent job gains occurring in large metro areas compared to more rural parts of the state. Before 2020, the last year where the Atlanta metro area put in a worse annual jobs performance than the state was in 2009.

The state’s second largest metro area, Augusta, experienced an even larger decline as its jobs market saw a 4.1 percent drop over the year resulting in 9,900 fewer jobs than in December 2019.

The Macon and Savannah areas suffered losses but the percentage declines in their labor markets were smaller than the state as a whole. The Savannah area saw a net job loss of 1,200, which translated to 0.6 percent drop. The Macon area recorded a loss of 1,600 jobs, which represented a 1.5 percent drop in its job market.

Three of the state’s smaller metro areas posted net job gains over the year. They included Valdosta (1,900), Rome (400), and Hinesville (200).

An exception to the larger employment drops being concentrated in the larger job markets was Brunswick. The southeastern Georgia coastal area recorded the worse performing job market among metro areas in the state in 2020. The Brunswick metro area saw jobs drop by 5,200 or 11.6 percent.

The Brunswick area saw large percentage employment declines in its goods-producing sector (-7.3%), private service-providing sector (-14.6 percent), state government (-5.6 percent), as well as local government (-5.8 percent).

Information for this report was provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Georgia shows strong jobs recovery in 4th quarter of 2020


Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

In the final three months of 2020, Georgia posted significant job gains that reversed part of the losses incurred in the second quarter of the year, according to information provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Nonfarm employment in the state grew by 130,200 in the final quarter of the year (before seasonal adjustement) with net job increases of 57,800 in October, 38,300 in November, and 34,100 in December. Employment in the private sector accounted for all of the net job growth over the quarter.

For the calendar year, Georgia’s job market suffered a net loss of 77,700 jobs or 1.66 percent. Over the past 12 months, private nonfarm jobs in Georgia declined by 55,200 while government jobs (federal, state and local governments combined) lost 22,500 jobs.

The percentage of job losses in the state was much lower than job losses nationwide. Nationally, the United States recorded net job losses in 2020 of 9.15 million jobs, or nearly 6 percent.

Georgia economic sectors 4th quarter

Employment grew noticeably in both the warehouse and storage and employment services industries. In the third quarter of 2020, employment in the warehouse and storage industry rose by 7,200, or 12 percent. Jobs in employment services, which includes temporary help jobs, grew by 17,700 or nearly 11 percent. Food services and drinking places recorded a significant bounce back in the fourth quarter, rising by 15,600 jobs as businesses either reopened or developed some pick-up and delivery trade to offset some of the loss of on-site dining.

Losses in jobs over the quarter included construction, down by 900 jobs, accommodation (hotels) down by 1,000 jobs and federal government, which declined by 3,800 jobs as seasonal Census workers completed their tasks.  

State government jobs dropped by 1,500 over the quarter even as local government employment rose by 4,700.

Georgia over-the-year employment by sector

For 2020, retail trade posted the largest net gain in employment, adding 30,500 jobs. The sector includes grocery stores, large multi-product stores such as Walmart and Target, as well as hardware chains such as Home Depot and Lowes. For the year, the sector showed a nearly 6 percent gain.

As a percentage of employment, the warehouse and storage industry recorded the largest gain at 13.7 percent, or 8,100 jobs.

The leisure and hospitality industry, which was hard hit by closures and curtailment of business related to the Covid-19 outbreak, failed to fully recover from losses in the second quarter of 2020. For the calendar year, food services and drinking places showed the largest net loss with the industry employment dropping by 28,700 or 7.2 percent in 2020. The accommodation industry reported a larger percentage loss at 24.7 percent, although because of its smaller employment base, recorded a net loss of only 12,400 jobs.

Atlanta metro area

As the largest metro area in the state, the Atlanta metro area played a significant part in the state’s job recovery in the fourth quarter, although the metro area recovered slower than the state as a whole.

For the fourth quarter of 2020, the Atlanta metro area added 72,200 jobs or about 55 percent of the jobs added by the state as a whole.

Over the calendar year, the metro area lost 72,500 of the state’s 77,700 net job loss, as private sector jobs failed to rebound as quickly in the Atlanta metro area as they have statewide.

Private nonfarm jobs in the Atlanta metro area dropped by 63,800 over the calendar year, while government jobs (federal, state and local governments combined) lost 8,700 jobs.


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, 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.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Georgia 2019 job growth would have been a disaster without Atlanta

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has released detailed numbers on job growth in Georgia over the past calendar year, not only for statewide Georgia, but for all the metro areas in the state.

By subtracting out the Atlanta area’s job information from the statewide information, it is possible measure how job growth in the non-Atlanta portion of the state, which I have termed RGA (Rest of Georgia), compares to the Atlanta area in calendar year 2019, and the results are not pretty.

In 2019, Georgia added 69,400 jobs for a growth rate of 1.5%, before seasonal adjustments. The calendar year growth rate was the lowest for the state since 2011, when the state posted a 1.1% rate.

The Atlanta metro area, which consist of 29 of the state’s 159 counties, recorded job growth of 66,700 over the calendar year for a growth rate of 2.4%. In contrast to the state, this year’s growth rate exceeded the rates recorded for the Atlanta area in 2017 and 2018.

By subtracting Atlanta’s numbers from the statewide totals, job growth in RGA (Rest of Georgia) was a mere 2,700 or 0.2% for calendar year 2019.

As a comparison, for the nation, job growth was 1.4% in calendar 2019.

The lack of job growth at a time when the nation is doing well economically is particularly worrisome because it represents a trend whereas the Atlanta metro area is increasingly the state’s primary job growth engine.

In 2019, RGA accounted for 38% of the total nonfarm jobs residing in Georgia. Ten years ago, RGA was home to 41% of the state’s nonfarm jobs. Since 2009, the Atlanta area has increased its job count by 623,300, as the RGA added 190,300.

Jobs by Industry

Looking at the jobs data by industry for 2019, jobs in the professional and business services sector grew by 13,000 in the Atlanta metro area while falling by 16,200 in RGA. The Atlanta area added 3,700 jobs in the information sector, while RGA lost 3,200.

Only in the financial activities sector did the number of jobs added in RGA exceed the number added in the Atlanta area. In that one industry RGA added 600 jobs, while the Atlanta area added 400.

Another way of looking at jobs is to compare the industry concentration by employment for the state, the Atlanta metro area, and the Rest of Georgia.

For example, about 15% of statewide employment is in government, which is the same as nationwide. Even though Atlanta is the state capital, only 12% of jobs in the metro area are in government, while in the rest of the state, this increases to 20% of total nonfarm jobs.

More specifically, about 4% of jobs statewide are in state government, with state government jobs in Atlanta accounting for 3% of total employment. For RGA, the percentage doubles with state government jobs accounting for 6% of total employment outside the Atlanta metro area.

Clearly, employment in government, federal, state, and local government combined, is of much more importance to the RGA than it is to the Atlanta metro area. Job losses in this sector would be more deeply felt in RGA than in the Atlanta metro area.

One sector where RGA has a significantly larger proportion of jobs compared to the Atlanta area is in manufacturing.

In the Atlanta metro area, manufacturing represents 6% of all employment, while in RGA, it accounts for 13% of employment.

Over the past 10 years, the state has added 63,100 jobs in manufacturing with the additions about evenly split between the Atlanta area and RGA.

Urban areas outside Atlanta

While the Atlanta metro area is the state’s largest urban area, Georgia is home to 13 other metropolitan areas ranging in size from Augusta with 246,000 jobs to Hinesville with 21,000.

Two of the 13 areas posted job growth rates above 2% in 2019. Gainesville added 3,400 jobs resulting in a 3.6% growth rate, and Rome added 1,100 jobs for a 2.6% job growth rate.

Although Gainesville is classified as its own metropolitan statistical area, the area sits adjacent to the Atlanta metro area and is classified by the Census Bureau as a part of the Atlanta-Athens-Clarke-Sandy Springs Combined Statistical Area (CSA). Some portion of Gainesville area residents commute to the Atlanta area daily for work.

Columbus was the only area in the state to lose jobs in 2019, with a net loss of 1,500 jobs or -1.2%. Albany recorded zero job growth over the year.

Excluding the Atlanta area, the other 13 metro areas reported a net addition of 13,100 jobs in 2019 for a growth rate of 1.1%. Unfortunately, since some of the state’s metro areas include counties outside Georgia, it is difficult to determine how changes in employment in those non-Georgia counties affected the overall employment of those metro areas that overlap two states, such as Augusta and Columbus.


Focusing only on statewide job growth can lead to misleading conclusions about the economic health of the state.

While the state as a whole is seeing job growth above the national average, the longer-term trend has been for that growth to concentrate in the Atlanta metro area.

Meanwhile, the rest of the state is seeing jobs concentrate in manufacturing and government, neither of which have been particularly strong growth engines.

Georgia is one of the largest states geographically east of the Mississippi River, so commuting to jobs in the Atlanta metro area by individuals living in other parts of the state is not a viable option for most of the state.

More likely, young people are being drawn out of other parts of the state into the Atlanta area in search of better employment opportunities as rural areas hollow out.

This trend has been evident for some time, so reversing it, even if desirable, will be difficult. Once a growth pattern like this develops, it feeds on itself, as more jobs create more opportunities, drawing more people from low growth areas to Atlanta in a self-reinforcing process.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Georgia employment in 2018: Where it went wrong

Up until March 11, 2019, Georgia had a good jobs story to tell. The state appeared to be growing faster than the nation with employment up by 2.6% in 2018, its fastest job growth rate since the end of 2015.

Then the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics published the benchmark data for 2018 and the Georgia story went up in smoke.

With the revisions, the number of new jobs added in the state last year dropped from 119,200 to 87,500 and the job growth rate fell to 1.9%.

When normal statistical variance is factored in, Georgia’s employment growth turned out to be little better than the nation as a whole.

Using the newly benchmarked information as a measure, Georgia’s job growth rate ranked 10th in 2018 and behind its neighbor states of Florida and South Carolina.

Industries revised downward

For Georgia, several sectors stood out as having over-estimated job growth in 2018.

Employment in the construction industry was revised down by 9,900 jobs for 2018.

Employment in wholesale companies was decreased by 13,900 jobs, the second straight year that employment in wholesale firms had been significantly overstated in the preliminary figures.

The number of workers engaged in health care and social assistance dropped by 8,400 over the year.

Industries revised upward

The net revision downward of 31,700 jobs would have been even worse if employment in a couple of industries had not been underestimated.

The number of workers employed in financial activities was revised up by 9,000. Within this group, both the finance and insurance sector as well as the real estate sector had employment counts significantly revised upward. The upward revision follows a similar upward revision in the 2017 numbers.

At the same time, employment in private educational services was raised by 4,800.

In general, Georgia’s growth in financial activities has been underappreciated even if its construction sector was overestimated.

Producing a monthly employment count is always a hectic experience and prone to revision as better data comes in later in the year.

It is important that estimates be as accurate as possible, but it is also important to remember that these numbers are just estimates and better at providing a direction to the larger economy rather than providing absolute confidence, especially for small samples.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Georgia surprises with job losses in July

In his monthly YouTube report, Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler puts a positive spin on this month's job losses.

Georgia lost 14,100 jobs in the month of July, the largest one-month job loss for the state since the beginning of 2011. With that lost, Georgia’s 12-month job gain of 96,200 jobs after seasonal adjustment, marked the first time since 2014 that the state has posted annual growth of less than 100,000 jobs in a year.

Despite the jobs drop, the state’s unemployment rate was essentially unchanged at 4.7%, which the Bureau of Labor statistics calculated as statistically not significantly different than the nation’s rate at 4.3%. Because Georgia has a smaller labor force than the nation and the unemployment rate is based on a smaller sample, apparent differences in rates can be deceiving once the numbers are adjusted by sampling techniques.

Private Sector Job Loss is Key

Over the month, the private sector in Georgia recorded losses of 11,900 jobs before seasonal adjustment. To compare, you have to go back to 2009 to see a July where the state lost this numbers of private sector jobs.

In July, local government educational services showed a drop of 19,700 jobs, about average for this month of the year.

Normally, in July, growth in private sector jobs in Georgia offset seasonal losses in local government education jobs, as school-related workers, such as bus drivers and cafeteria workers, are unemployed while the schools are on summer recess with the expectation that these jobs will begin again once schools open in August.

This year, the private sector was unable to make up the difference.

Losses were widespread with construction (-1,900), manufacturing (-1,600), retail trade (-1,300), and professional and business services (-3,600) all contributing to the downturn.

Georgia’s job loss runs counter to the nation

Georgia’s losses are more surprising since the nation reported good job growth in July, up by 209,000, after seasonal adjustment.

Among the states, the largest increase in employment over the month occurred in California (+82,600), followed by Florida (+32,700) and Pennsylvania (+29,000).

In percentage terms, the largest increases occurred in the District of Columbia, Idaho, Oklahoma, and Rhode Island (+0.6 percent each).

Georgia had the only significant employment decrease (-14,100, or -0.3 percent).

Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia had over-the-year increases in nonfarm payroll employment in July. The largest job gains occurred in Texas (+293,400), California (+276,400), and Florida (+226,200).

It is always interesting to see the monthly revisions to these preliminary numbers, but next month economists will be looking closely to see if this month's drastic drop was simply a statistical slip, or the real start of a downturn.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Metro Atlanta’s job growth drives Georgia’s growth

After two months of small declines, Georgia’s employers rebounded sharply in June, adding 27,400 jobs over the month according to newly released data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It was the largest one-month jump in hiring in over six years.

The new jobs added in June pushed the total number of jobs added over the past year to 122,600, well above the 111,200 jobs added for the same period in 2016.

The state’s unemployment rate relatively unchanged at 4.8% in June compared to May. In June 2016, the state’s unemployment rate stood at 5.3%.

Over the past year, Georgia’s labor force grew by 134,941 persons as the number of people employed in Georgia rose by 153,335 while the number counted as unemployed dropped by 18,394.

Metro Atlanta

The metro Atlanta area added 23,900 in June and accounted for 87% of the state’s new jobs. Over the past year, metro area employers have added 93,700 jobs.  

Increasingly, the metro Atlanta area drives the state’s job market.

At the beginning of 2007, metro Atlanta accounted for 58.9% of the state’s employment. With the new counts for June, that percentage has risen to 61.3%.

Signs of Wage Inflation

With Georgia’s job growth coming in at 2.8% over the year compared to the nation’s 1.6% growth rate, pressures are rising on employers to raise compensation to retain and attract workers.

Earlier in the week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released a report detailing weekly earnings for full-time wage and salary workers for the second quarter of 2017.

The median weekly earnings of the nation's 113.4 million full-time wage and salary workers
were $859 in the second quarter of 2017 (not seasonally adjusted).

This was 4.2 percent higher than a year earlier, compared with a gain of 1.9 percent in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) over the same period.

While BLS does not release similar data for individual states, Georgia (and especially the Atlanta metro area) is not immune to the wage pressures being seen elsewhere in the nation.

All data in this report are seasonally adjusted unless noted otherwise.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Georgia’s metro edge counties showing fastest job growth

Counties on the edge of Georgia's metro areas are showing some of the fastest job growth rates, according to recently released information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The 2007-2009 national recession hit Georgia hard. Between December 2007 and December 2009, more than 8% of jobs in the state disappeared.

As we all know now, since then, the state has experienced a strong rebound in jobs, stronger than the nation as a whole. Since December 2009 through the end of December 2016, the state has gained more than half-a-million new jobs, more than offsetting previous losses.

The story of job growth in Georgia since the recession has been the increasing urbanization, as employment growth concentrated in the state’s metro areas, especially in the Atlanta and Savannah metros.

What is less obvious is that some of the strongest post-recession growth has been not in the core counties in these metro areas, but in their so-called “edge counties”, those counties at the periphery, but still included in the metro areas.

These counties have a host of advantages including lots of lower price land that can be developed at lower cost, along with lower taxes, while still being in commuting range of urban centers.

And this story isn’t just about the Atlanta metro area. Non-core counties are showing remarkable job growth in a variety of metro areas around Georgia.

The job numbers speak for themselves (December 2009-December 2016):

  • Twiggs County (Macon MSA): Added 1,317 jobs (+133.4%)
  • Burke County (Augusta MSA): Added 4,570 jobs (+77.0%)
  • Jackson County (Atlanta MSA): Added 9,745 jobs (+59.1%)
  • Echols County (Valdosta MSA): Added 230 jobs (+45.1%)
  • Bryan County (Savannah MSA): Added 2,415 jobs (+42.9%)
  • Oconee County (Athens MSA): Added 3,199 jobs (+40.6%)
  • Jones County (Macon MSA): Added 1,329 jobs (+40.2%)
  • Forsyth County (Atlanta MSA): Added 20,033 jobs (+38.0%)
  • Monroe County (Macon MSA): Added 1,871 jobs (+32.8%)
  • Troup County (Atlanta MSA): Added 9,816 jobs (+32.7%)

For the most recent time frame (December 2015-December 2016), the story remains the same, with Twiggs, Burke, and Oconee counties showing the highest percentage job growth for Georgia counties in metro areas, followed by Meriwether, Murray, and Jackson counties.

Here are the county job growth numbers for the top 10 metro counties between December 2015 and December 2016 (most recent data available from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics):

  • Twiggs County (Macon MSA): Added 1,156 jobs (+100.7%)
  • Burke County (Augusta MSA): Added 3,533 jobs (+50.7%)
  • Oconee County (Athens MSA): Added 1,092 jobs (+10.9%)
  • Meriwether County (Atlanta MSA): Added 422 jobs (+9.7%)
  • Murray County (Dalton MSA & Chattanooga MSA): Added 880 jobs (+9.6%)
  • Jackson County (Atlanta MSA): Added 2,115 jobs (+8.8%)
  • Lee County (Albany MSA): Added 491 jobs (+8.1%)
  • Walton County (Atlanta MSA): Added 1,520 jobs (+7.2%)
  • Paulding County (Atlanta MSA): Added 1,531 jobs (+7.0%)
  • Oglethorpe County (Athens MSA): Added 107 jobs (+6.9%)

Admittedly, many of these counties start from a low employment base, which makes it easier to reach the high percentage increases, but consistently, these high job growth counties share one common feature: They are located in a metro area, but are not the core county for that area.

The fast growth of these “edge counties” calls into question earlier reports that people were abandoning the suburbs in favor of urban cores.

Judging from the data, it appears that while Georgia is participating in the general trend towards urban areas over rural ones, many citizens of the state are increasingly able to find work not in the urban core but at the outer edges of these increasingly metro areas.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Georgia dependent on Federal Dollars

 Proposed Federal budget for FY2018

New information provided by the Census Bureau’s 2015 Annual Survey of State Government Finances shows that 34.3% of Georgia’s General Revenue comes from the Federal government.

If fiscal conservatives get their way and the Federal government does make large cuts in Federal spending, Georgia would have to scramble to make up the revenues currently supplied to the state by the Federal government either by cutting programs or raising taxes.

According to an analysis conducted by Governing magazine, Louisiana and Mississippi were the most dependent on Federal funds (about 42% each), followed by Arizona and Kentucky (40% each).
In contrast, North Dakota was the least dependent (18%).

Many readers may believe that the states closest to the DC area would be most dependent on Federal largesse, but in fact Virginia (21.5%) and Maryland (30.8%) were considerably less dependent on Federal assistance than Georgia.

According to Governing, monies for transportation, Medicaid, and other social assistance programs topped the reasons for Federal funding.

In Fiscal Year 2015, Georgia spent nearly $12.2 billion on public welfare, of which $6.9 billion (56.6%) were provided by Federal revenues. 

“The Census Bureau’s classification of public welfare funding includes Medicaid, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), child welfare services and a range of other assistance programs mostly for low-income individuals. It excludes school nutrition programs and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC),” according to the news article.

The state spent $17.8 billion on education, of which $3 billion (17.2%) came from the Federal government.

Spending on roads and highway infrastructure totaled nearly $2 billion, with the Feds paying $1.1 billion, or more than 56% of the total bill. Mass transit funding is not included in these numbers.

These payments will be even greater as the state is asking the Feds to reimburse it for the costs of replacing the I-85 bridge that collapsed earlier this year.

Georgia continues to pursue Federal funds for deepening the Savannah River to support Savannah’s port and may need the Federal Energy Department to forgive loans given to Plant Vogtle’s nuclear plant construction, if the two nuclear reactors currently under construction are not completed.

You can see the entire Census Bureau report here and read the Governing analysis here.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

98% of Georgia's New Jobs are in Metro Atlanta

Georgia saw good job growth in the first three months of 2017, but virtually all of it occurred in the Atlanta metro area, according to new seasonally adjusted data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Georgia Nonfarm Employment, Jan. 2006 - March 2017
Atlanta Metro Area Nonfarm Employment, Jan. 2006 - March 2017
The state saw net new jobs rise by 30,400 in the first three months of 2017. For the 12 months ending in March, the state saw a net increase of 131,000 new jobs, resulting in a 3.0% increase over the year.

Virtually all the new jobs grew in the Atlanta metro area, which posted an increase of 29,800 new jobs for the first three months of 2017.

As a result, the Atlanta metro area accounted for 98% of net job growth. The Atlanta metro area now accounts for almost 85% of the nonfarm jobs in the state.

Overall, March was the 12th consecutive month that saw Georgia posting an increase in seasonally adjusted nonfarm jobs.

Unemployment Rate

Georgia's unemployment rate, seasonally adjusted, declined to 5.1% in March 2017, the lowest recorded by the state since December 2007.

In March 2016, the state's unemployment rate stood at 5.5%. 

Despite a long string of good job growth, the state's unemployment rate stays stubbornly above the national average.

In March 2017, the U.S. unemployment rate was 4.5%.

Growth Industries in Georgia

Georgia's private sector recorded most of the growth in the first quarter, rising by 29,800 jobs, while government increased by 600 net new jobs.

The state’s Construction industry added 6,400 new jobs in the first quarter, followed by Financial Activities (6,200) and Leisure & Hospitality (5,000).

Manufacturing in the state saw a dip with job losses of 2,900 in the first quarter.

In government, the slow growth was due to a loss of 1,200 local government jobs, while state government jobs grew by 1,100.

Lagging Areas

Metro areas with net declines during the first quarter of 2017 included Augusta (-1,500), Brunswick (-600), Albany (-400), Columbus (-300) and Dalton and Hinesville (-200 in each), seasonally adjusted.

Over the past 12 months, the Dalton area has shown the smallest job growth, adding only 100 net new jobs since March 2016.

The story for the rural areas outside the state’s 11 metro areas is even worse.

While BLS does not report a separate number for non-metro nonfarm employment, by calculating the net increases for all metro areas in the state, the result is no net increase in jobs in the rural parts of Georgia since March 2016.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

7 Years after the Great Recession, Georgia is regaining its employment levels

New data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that after seven years, Georgia workforce has climbed out of the recession but still has a long way to go to regain its pre-recession levels.

BLS is reporting that Georgia’s employment-population ratio for 2016 was 59.0% as compared to the nation’s ratio of 59.7%. This is the best report for the state since 2009.

Prior to the last recession, Georgia routinely exceeded the employment-population ratio of the nation, but this all ended in 2009 when the state’s ratio fell to 59.1%.

It has taken Georgia from 2009 to 2016 to regain that level of employment.

Chart 1. Employment-Population Ratio, U.S. and Georgia, 
Annual Average 2000-2016
BLS defines the employment-population ratio simply as “the proportion of the civilian noninstitutional population aged 16 years and over that is employed.” It is widely regarded as the best gauge of workforce employment.

In 2016, Nebraska posted the highest ratio at 69.2%, while West Virginia saw the lowest ratio among states at 50.0%.

For Georgia, the increase from 2015 to 2016 was a statistically significant gain of 1.1 percentage points.

The gain represents an increase of 112,000 in the state’s population, with 154,000 more people employed and 21,000 fewer people listed as officially unemployed.

Georgia’s best year was in 2000 when the ratio stood at 66.8%.

Average State Unemployment Rate Declines

At 5.4%, Georgia’s average unemployment rate remains above the U.S. average of 4.9%. This was still an improvement from 2015’s numbers when the state posted an average rate of 6.0%.

In 2016, New Mexico recorded the highest average unemployment rate at 6.7%, while Hawaii had the lowest average rate at 3.0%.

Private Sector Wages Show Growth

As employment recovers, wages in Georgia are recovering also.

In December 2016, the average nonagricultural wage in the private sector in Georgia stood at $24.72 per hour, an increase of $3.35 over the same time period in 2009.

Wage growth in the state has equaled the pace set nationally. In December 2016, the national private sector average wage stood at $25.89 per hour.

Even accounting for inflation, since December 2009, average hourly wages in Georgia have risen by 15.7% while consumer prices have increased an average of 11.8%.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

See you in court: New overtime rule means more litigation for Georgia employers

With the new overtime rule effective December 1, 2016, more Georgia employers can expect to be facing their employees and former employees in court.

The new rule raises the minimum salary threshold for exemption from overtime pay from the current $455/week to $913/week ($47,476 per year) and automatically increases the threshold every three years based on wage growth over time.

In Georgia, overtime rules are enforced by the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor. The agency has the authority to order back wage payments and impose fines for employers who violate the law, but the agency is already dealing with a backlog of complaints and the new rule will only add to their burden of cases.

As a result, more employees and former employees will be turning to private employment attorneys to defend their rights in court.

For companies, this will mean spending substantial amount of time in court defending their job classification systems.

As Atlanta television station WXIA-TV recently discovered when reporting on a story involving a local restaurant, the agency is already struggling to enforce the existing law, and the new rule will simply add to their current backlog.

The television station found that since 2000 Georgia companies did not pay 89,766 employees more than $62 million.

While WHD can impose fines, it is highly unusual, as the television reporter found that of the 6,582 Georgia companies cited by USDOL for wage theft, only 8 percent were required to pay a fine.

The new rule will especially impact employees currently classified as first-level supervisors in low-wage industries such as restaurants and retailing where supervisory duties are mixed with directly dealing with customers.

Filing a lawsuit has always been an option under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), but with the Wage and Hour Division’s failure to keep up with complaints, it is increasingly likely that civil lawsuits will become preferable to waiting months for an investigation.

A successful lawsuit for back wages can run into $100,000's or more, as employers who lose in court will have to immediately pay both back wages and attorney fees for both sides, not to mention any appeals process.

In comparison, normally the Labor Department is satisfied to see back wages paid, sometimes setting up a payment plan where employers can pay in installments until their obligations are met.

With a potential avalanche of lawsuits facing Georgia companies, many of which are small and medium size employers without in-house legal staff, companies may learn that an administrative investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor is preferable to spending hundreds of hours in court and spending thousands of dollars defending their positions.

If you are one of the 89,766 employees or former employees who thinks you may be owed back wages collected by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division, you can search their database at by the employer's name and submit a claim.