Showing posts with label atlanta economy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label atlanta economy. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Job openings down in May for Georgia, as inflation rises in the Atlanta area in June

Two new reports from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics paint a increasingly tough atmosphere for workers in Georgia. A decline in the number of job openings means fewer opportunities for workers to improve their economic position, while rising prices will squeeze their incomes.

Job openings in Georgia

Job openings in Georgia dropped by 69,000 between April and May 2022 to 367,000. In comparison, the state recorded 436,000 in April and 365,000 openings in May 2021.

The job openings rate in the state dropped from 7.4 in May 2021 to 7.1 in May 2022. The job openings rate peaked at 8.4 in August and October 2021 and again in February and April 2022.

If the number of workers choosing to quit offers an insight to workers' psychology, the number of job openings offers a similar insight to employers. A reduction in the number of openings indicates that employers in Georgia are less optimistic about their future business prospects.

While the number of job openings declined, the number of hires, quits and layoffs were virtually unchanged over the month.


Consumer prices in the Atlanta area rose by 2.4% between April and June and increased 11.5% in the 12 months ending in June.

For the nation, consumer prices increased 2.5% for the two months ending in June and rose 9.1% over the past 12 months.

The 12-month increase was the largest recorded for the Atlanta metro area since BLS began posting bimonthly data in 1999. As a contrast, in January 2021 the Atlanta area recorded a 12-month increase of 2.4% compared to the current two-month increase with the same percentage change.

In June, food prices in the Atlanta area rose by 2.1%, over two months as costs for food at home increased 3.0% and food away from home moved up by 1.0%. Over the past 12 months, food prices increased 10.1%.

Housing costs increased 2.5% over the previous two months with rents increasing 2.7%. Over the past year, housing costs in the Atlanta area have risen 11.0% with rents increasing 12.2%.

After increasing in January, apparel costs have declined in each of the past four months with the apparel index posting a 6.9% decline in the two months ending in June. With those recent declines, the index has increased 4.8% over the past year.

Transportation costs rose 6.1% in June with the index increasing 23.8% over the previous 12 months, almost the same percentage increase recorded for the index in the 12 months ending in June 2021. Combined, the transportation index in the Atlanta area has risen 53.3% since June 2020.

Gasoline cost increases were a major contributor to the rise in transportation costs with gasoline costs rising 16.3% in the two months ending in June and increasing 50.8% over the past year. Since June 2020, gasoline costs in the Atlanta area have increased 140.3%.

Costs for all items less and food and energy in the Atlanta area increased 1.5% for the two months ending in June. The index rose 9.7% over the past 12 months.

The index for all items less food and energy in the U.S. increased 1.3%, while the 12-month increase was 5.9%. 

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, June 21, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

Metro areas

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

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

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

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

Future Unclear

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

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

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Georgia’s labor market tells a tale of two surveys in the 1st quarter of 2020

Georgia Unemployment Rate, 2018-March 2020, seasonally adjusted
Georgia posted meager 1st quarter employment growth but not due to the coronavirus based on a survey of establishments in the state, while the household survey showed definite signs of the impact of the coronavirus on labor activity.

The State of Georgia gained 5,000 jobs in the 1st quarter of 2020, an 85% decline from its job gains in the 1st quarter of 2019 according to the survey of businesses and government agencies.

At the same time, the state’s unemployment rate remained at 3.1% in January and February before jumping to 4.2% in March a rate not seen in the state since 2018.

The Georgia governor’s “stay-at-home” order was not effective until April 3rd, so the small job gains must be attributed to a general slowing of the state’s economy rather than to the effects of the state’s order.

It is possible that some people were curtailing their economic activities even before the order became official resulting in a slowdown and layoffs, which may account for the increase in the number of unemployed reported in the household survey.

Establishment survey

All three months (January, February, and March) showed smaller results than for the same months a year ago.

The Atlanta metro area gained 2,200 jobs over the quarter that includes a 500 job gain in the month of March. The 1st quarter gain represents a 92% decline from the 1st quarter of 2019 when the area recorded increases of more than 27,000 jobs.

The other 12 metro areas in the state combined to a net loss of 900 jobs in the 1st quarter compared to a gain of 3,000 in the 1st quarter of 2019.

The trend in the numbers along with the fact that the Atlanta area posted a job increase in March despite illnesses associated with Covid-19 in the metro area indicates that the survey of businesses and government agencies did not reflect any effects from the coronavirus in the establishment survey.

Establishment survey by industry

Health care and social assistance posted a 6,000 job increase over the quarter, slightly below the 6,500 job gain in the 1st quarter of 2019.

The increase was partially offset by a 1,700-job loss in the leisure and hospitality sector and a 1,300-job loss in manufacturing. Professional and business services remains the largest sector in the state despite having a net loss of 200 jobs over the quarter.

Establishment survey by area

After Atlanta, the Augusta area posted the next highest job gain among the state’s metro areas, adding 900 jobs in the 1st quarter of 2020.

Areas posting significant job losses included Valdosta (-900), Dalton (-700), and Athens (-700).


In contrast to the establishment survey that serves as the basis for the jobs data, the household survey told a very different story for the first quarter of the year.

In March, the number of unemployed in the state rose by 55,442 to a total of 216,589 people as compared to 187,625 in March 2019.

The number of employed persons dropped by 77,876 people according to the household survey, with a net loss 22,434 people listed as dropping out of the labor force.

As a result, the labor force participation rate declined to 62.1%.

Effects of the coronavirus on Georgia’s labor market

The state was relatively slow in implementing procedures to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus, which explains the small effect on 1st quarter job growth.

For example, the arts, entertainment, and recreation sector, which is expected to experience a steep decline in employment due to the closing of many nonessential activities during the stay-at-home period, showed an employment increase of 1,500 jobs in the 1st quarter including a 400 job rise in the month of March.

It is expected that when the April establishment employment numbers are reported most of the industries and areas in the state will show significant declines compared to the 1st quarter of the year, and the state’s unemployment rate will continue to climb.

Whether these employment declines continue through the 2nd quarter depends on both how long the state’s stay-at-home order remains in place, and how confident people feel about returning to their normal activities.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Shuttering the Georgia economy to save the Georgia economy

A new study released by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that while the 1918 Pandemic lowered economic activity in areas severely affected by the virus, taking early and lengthy actions to stem a pandemic did not cause additional damage to the economy and actually resulted in a more robust economy during the recovery phase.

Researchers Sergio Correia, Stephan Luck, and Emil Verner looked at how American cities reacted to the 1918 Flu Pandemic. The 1918 Pandemic took the public by surprise and resulted in between 550,000 to 675,000 deaths in the U.S.

Decisions on how aggressively to combat the 1918 Pandemic were decided at the local level. Cities varied in their willingness to commit to a long fight using non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to combat the flu. Some cities took very aggressive actions for a longer time, while other cities were concerned that prolonging the fight against the flu virus would cause greater damage to their local economy.

The researchers used manufacturing employment as a proxy to measure the local economies. In 1918, manufacturing was a much more dominant part of local economies than it is today, and employment information on the manufacturing sector was the primary information collected by statistical agencies, so seeing the pandemic’s effect on the manufacturing sectors of various cities gives a good approximation on how the overall economies of various cities were impacted.

“Our paper yields two main insights. First, we find that areas that were more severely affected by the 1918 Flu Pandemic saw a sharp and persistent decline in real economic activity. Second, we find that cities that implemented early and extensive NPIs suffered no adverse economic effects over the medium term. On the contrary, cities that intervened earlier and more aggressively experienced a relative increase in real economic activity after the pandemic subsided. Altogether, our findings suggest that pandemics can have substantial economic costs, and NPIs can lead to both better economic outcomes and lower mortality rates.”

Plotting the mortality rate, the growth in manufacturing employment, and how long cities implemented NPI measures, the researchers found a correlation between the length of those interventions and the subsequent growth in employment between 1914 and 1919 (the time between two economic censuses) for a number of U.S. cities.

Impact in the South

While Atlanta is not one of the group of cities included in the study, Birmingham, Alabama., is included on the list. Birmingham at that time played much the same dominant role in the southern regional economy as Atlanta does today. In 1910, Birmingham had a population of 132,000, while Atlanta’s population was 154,000, so the two areas were relatively close in size at that time.

There has been some concern that taking more aggressive measures against Covid-19 will cause greater damage to the economy than by letting the virus take its course.

The New York Fed study does not support this hypothesis. In fact, the researchers write that cities that kept their interventions going for longer during the 1918 Pandemic actually benefited with their manufacturing employment growing faster in the medium term.

“Our regression estimates suggest that the effects were economically sizable. Reacting ten days earlier to the arrival of the pandemic in a given city increased manufacturing employment by around 5 percent in the post-pandemic period. Likewise, implementing NPIs for an additional fifty days increased manufacturing employment by 6.5 percent after the pandemic.”

Birmingham was one of those cities that chose to intervene for a shorter period of time relative to other U.S. cities and suffered both a higher mortality rate and lower employment recovery than cities that more aggressively battled the flu.

The most successful cities were those in the Midwest and West that saw the impact the 1918 Pandemic had on cities in the East and took more drastic measures to contain the virus as it traveled across the country.

Lessons for Georgia

In one sense, Georgia is lucky that the greatest impact of the virus has been in cities such as Seattle, and New York, giving Georgia time to take aggressive actions.

If the Atlanta region, and in fact all of Georgia, want to avoid the slower recovery that afflicted Birmingham in the early part of the 20th Century, then being more aggressive in combatting the coronavirus now may be the only means to avoid the longer-term risk of falling farther behind other parts of the nation after the infection rate slows.

British economist George Magnus has blogged recently that protecting lives and protecting the economy is not a choice.

“We are shuttering the economy because otherwise, letting the virus run, our health systems might collapse. As infection rates soared, we would not only experience high fatality rates in Covid patients, largely but not only older people, but also in a wide array of non-Covid patients, young and old, for whom the health system would barely be able to serve.” 

He finishes his blog by writing:

“So please, can we stop this red herring argument about choices between keeping the economy going versus saving lives? The latter is part of the strategy to get to the former. Simples.” 

As of March 28, Georgia is officially reporting 2,366 cases, 69 deaths and 617 hospitalizations. Undoubtedly, these numbers will grow, but the infection growth rate depends on how well policymakers learn from the actions in other cities.

Georgia’s policymakers at the state level need to reevaluate whether their current slow approach to fighting the virus will really provide the best result for the health of its citizens and the state’s medium-term economic future.


WSBTV, March 28, 2020


Monday, March 16, 2020

Atlanta saves Georgia from net loss of jobs in 2019

Georgia showed the slowest annual growth in nonfarm employment in 8 years and the Atlanta area made up for a decline in the rest of the state’s job market in 2019, according to revised jobs data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Each year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics revises its preliminary job figures from April through December of the previous year as a result of an annual benchmark processing to reflect 2019 employment counts primarily from the BLS Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW), as well as updating of seasonal adjustment factors.

Georgia’s net job increase fell from a preliminary growth estimate of 69,400 to a revised estimate of 63,200 for calendar year 2019 resulting in a state growth rate of 1.4%, the same as the national average.

Employment in the Atlanta area was revised upwards from a preliminary estimate of 66,700 to a revised estimate of 69,100.

With the changes, the rest of the state actually declined by 5,900 jobs in 2019; the first time this has occurred since 2011.

Metropolitan areas in the state recording declining employment over the year included Athens (-1,300), Columbus (-1,100), Dalton (-2,000) and Macon (-300). Valdosta reported no net job growth for the calendar year.

Warner Robins was the standout area for Georgia with a net addition of 2,000 jobs in 2019.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

State of Georgia personal income increases, individual income tax revenues decline: All driven by changes in the Atlanta metro area

Personal income in the State of Georgia grew by 3.8% in the third quarter of 2019, the same growth rate as the nation.

State personal income totaled $515.06 billion compared to $510.258 billion in the second quarter of the year placing the state as ranking 19th in its personal income growth rate.

Since the third quarter of 2018, the state’s personal income has risen by more than 4.3%.

The increase occurs even as Georgia reports lower Individual Income Tax collections over the quarter.

In July, Individual Income Tax collections came in $72.5 million above the amount collected in July 2018. In August and September, Individual Income Tax collections came in below amounts for the previous year by -$58.3 million, and -$27.4 million respectively. 

Combined, Individual Income Tax collections decreased by -$14.2 million compared to the same period last year.

GDP growth driven by the Atlanta metro area

Newly released information from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) demonstrates how the state’s development is being driven by the Atlanta metro area.

Georgia is highly dependent on the Atlanta metro area for the state’s prosperity and suffers when growth in the Atlanta area slows.

In 2018, the Atlanta metro area’s real GDP (a measurement of all goods and services adjusted for changes in prices, either inflation or deflation) rose by 2.5% compared to 2.4% for the State of Georgia and 2.9% for the nation.

The previous year, the Atlanta metro area’s real GDP rose by 4.1% compared to the state’s 3.7% and the nation’s 2.4% growth rate.

Five-year growth rates

More evidence for the outsized role that the Atlanta metro area plays in the state’s growth comes from recently released county GDP numbers.

The Atlanta area’s real GDP rose by 21.6% in the most recent five-year period compared to a rise of 17.35% for the state.

Five of the six counties showing the greatest dollar growth in GDP are located in the Atlanta area, including Fulton, Cobb, Gwinnett, DeKalb, and Clayton counties, each with real GDP growth greater than $2 billion over the past five years.

The only other county in Georgia with GDP growth of more than $2 billion was Chatham County, part of the Savannah metro area.

Fulton County was responsible for the largest GDP in the state, at $152.3 billion and recorded a 24.42% real GDP growth rate since 2013.

Georgia has 159 counties, the most of any state east of the Mississippi River, and Fulton County’s GDP exceeds the combined GDP of 144 of those 159 counties.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Georgia jobs data for 3rd quarter revised up; job growth concentrated around Atlanta metro area

Georgia 12-month percentage job growth rate, Jan 2017-Oct 2019
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

With release of revised job numbers for September, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has revised upward seasonally adjusted job growth in Georgia for the 3rd quarter of 2019.

Preliminary data indicated the state had added 22,000 jobs in the July-to-September period.

With the revised data, that number grew to 22,400, besting the numbers for the 3rd quarter of 2018, which showed job growth of 22,100.

The Atlanta area recorded a better than originally reported job increase over the quarter. Preliminary estimates indicated that Georgia’s largest metro area had added 14,700 jobs but the revised data showed the increase to be 16,400.

With the revision, Savannah lost fewer jobs than originally reported with preliminary data showing a quarterly loss of 1,800 jobs and revised loss of only 1,500 jobs. Over the past 12 months, Savannah’s job growth has been anemic with an increase of only 1,000 net new jobs out of a total job market of more than 180,000 jobs.

Altogether, the number of new jobs added in all metro areas in the state rose from 3,900 in the preliminary estimate to 16,700 in the revised estimate.

Job Growth Concentrated in the Atlanta Metro Area

Despite the upward revisions, new jobs have become increasingly concentrated in the Atlanta metro area.

With the concentration of new jobs in the Atlanta area, the state’s overall job growth rate can be misleading.

While Georgia has a statewide job growth rate of 1.6% over the past 12 months, if you subtract out the Atlanta metro area, the rest of the state is posting a job growth rate of less than 0.8%. The Atlanta metro area is currently posting a 2.1% job creation rate.

Even though Georgia’s metro area is home to 61% of the state’s employment, for the first 10 months of 2019 (January-October), the Atlanta metro area accounted for more than 9 out of 10 new jobs.

Of the 54,400 net new jobs created in Georgia over the recent 10-month period, 50,400 were in the Atlanta area.

As a comparison, in the first 10 months of 2018, of the 74,400 net new jobs created in Georgia, the Atlanta area saw 49,100 net new jobs, or 2/3’s of the state’s total.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Equifax CEO speaks prior to announcement of data breach

On September 7, 2017, Atlanta-based Equifax announced that personal information for as many as 143 million consumers had been accessed by hackers between May and July.

Back on August 17, after the breach was known to the company, but before the information was released publicly, Equifax CEO Rick Smith spoke to a group at the University of Georgia, Terry College of Business.

Early in his talk he boasts about he "transformed" the company from one that "didn't have any innovation" with "average talent", which he changed into a "global data and analytics company" by "innovating at a faster rate."

He gave this talk knowing about the data breach.

Below you can watch his entire talk.

Since the breach has been made public, Equifax's stock price has fallen about 35%.

Equifax is a major company in the Atlanta metro area, important not for its size, but because it supports many groups and institutions in Georgia since its headquarters is in Atlanta.

If the company is bought out, Atlanta will lose a major headquarters company, and many groups in Georgia will have less access to the corporate support for their activities now provided by Equifax.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Does McDonald’s need Georgia Department of Labor to recruit minimum wage fast-food workers?

The Georgia Department of Labor recently posted the following information:

The Georgia Department of Labor’s (GDOL) Cedartown Career Center will help McDonald’s recruit about 50 employees to work in Carroll, Douglas and Polk counties. The recruitment will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 22, from 1-5 p.m. at the McDonald’s restaurant located at 328 North Main St. in Cedartown. GDOL staff will be on site to assist applicants. Salaries will begin at $7.25 an hour.

If you check the Georgia Department of Labor’s website, they claim:

The Mission of the Georgia Department of Labor is: 
To work with public and private partners in building a workforce system that contributes to Georgia's economic prosperity.
Now there is nothing wrong with working at McDonald’s or any fast-food restaurant, but when people think about bringing jobs to Georgia and building an educated workforce, they probably don’t think that hiring workers at the Federal minimum wage contributes to that goal in a significant manner.

Is this really where GDOL should be putting its energy?

Doesn’t the Department think that McDonald’s, an international employer, can hire its own employees at minimum wage without the help of the Georgia Department of Labor?

GDOL needs to focus on helping to develop a workforce that can compete nationally and internationally.

The goal should be to focus on well-paying jobs with good benefits and career advancement. That means technical training and encouraging workers to pursue their dreams both by supporting them and providing them with the tools they need to succeed.

While job growth continues strong in the metro Atlanta area, it is showing signs of weakening in many parts of Georgia.

GDOL needs to be working to help find solutions to the lack of job opportunities in the rural portions of the state, and workers in those areas need to know that the GDOL cares about them.

It is unclear how GDOL staff spending time and energy helping McDonald’s hire 50 minimum-wage staff for fast-food restaurants (that may be company or franchisee-owned) is in the long-term interests of Georgia's workforce.

You can read the GDOL announcement here.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Georgia’s job creation machine continues to slow due to job slowdown outside the Atlanta metro area

Georgia 12-month percentage change in nonfarm jobs. seasonally adjusted, 2014-2016

Despite upbeat messages from the Georgia Department of Labor, Georgia’s December 2016 nonfarm employment count only equaled its 2015 job growth and fell below the levels set in December 2013 and 2014, according to new data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In December, Georgia added 5,900 jobs, seasonally adjusted, the same as in December 2015. Before seasonal adjustment, net jobs dropped by 9,700. In December 2015, the state lost only 2,100 jobs before seasonal adjustment.

As a result, Georgia’s 12-month net increase in seasonally adjusted 103,300 net new jobs with a job growth rate of 2.4 percent, still higher than the national average at 1.5 percent, but the slowest job increase recorded in the state since 2013.


As a result of the slowdown in new job creation, even as the state’s labor force grew, the state’s unemployment rate in December was virtually unchanged over the year.

In December 2016, the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate stood at 5.4 percent compared to a 5.5 percent rate in December 2015, a statistically insignificant difference.

Over the past year, the state added 27,767 people to its labor force, and the number of unemployed grew by 10,648, not seasonally adjusted.

Atlanta Metro Area

The slowdown in job growth was concentrated outside the Atlanta metro area.

In December 2016, the Atlanta metro area added 4,500 jobs, seasonally adjusted and accounted for three-fourths of the state’s net job growth.

Over the year, the Atlanta’s area growth rate reached 2.7 percent, slightly below 2016’s rate of 2.8 percent. For the year, the Atlanta metro area added 70,500 jobs, about the same number of jobs as in 2015.

Other Metro Areas in Georgia

Unfortunately, the state continues to acknowledge the problem of slowing job growth outside the Atlanta metro area.

Three metro areas in Georgia added fewer than 300 net new jobs over the past 12 months. Dalton added 200 jobs over the year, Valdosta added 100, and Hinesville actually has lost 100 jobs since December 2015.

While BLS does not publish a number for nonmetro nonfarm jobs in the state, with the Atlanta and Savannah metro areas accounting for three-fourths of the state’s new jobs and the smaller metros suffering, it is fair to say that the rural parts of the state are suffering at least to the same degree as the small metro areas.

Unless conditions change by an influx of new jobs into the rural and small metro areas, the Atlanta area will continue to be a mecca for state residents looking to escape dead-end careers, and the state will be steadily transformed as economic power (leading to political power) continues to concentrate in the Atlanta area.

Nonfarm Employment December 2016  /  12-months ending in December 2016
(Seasonally Adjusted. Preliminary data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.)

Statewide Georgia   5,900      /   103,300
Albany                          -200  /    1,000
Athens                       -1,400  /    1,700
Atlanta                        4,500  /  70,500
Augusta                             0  /   4,800
Brunswick                     200  /      500
Columbus                      800  /    1,900
Dalton                             0    /      200
Gainesville                    600  /     2,100
Hinesville                     -100  /     -100
Macon                          -200  /      700
Rome                            -100  /      400
Savannah                    1,100  /    6,800
Valdosta                       -400  /       100

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Union Summer targets Atlanta in 2016

The AFL-CIO is now recruiting college interns and a site coordinator to work in teams to support union organizing campaigns and other initiatives in Atlanta during June, July, and August 2016.

According to the AFL-CIO, tasks include:

“…having one-on-one conversations with workers in the process of organizing a union in their workplaces, organizing direct actions such as marches and rallies, talking with workers impacted by the jobs crisis, as well as assisting in building community, labor and religious support for union organizing efforts.”

While Union Summer is an annual event, the cities targeted vary each year. In 2016, targets will include:

·       Jackson, MS
·       Atlanta, GA
·       Anniston, AL
·       Houston, TX

Interns participating in this year’s activities are not considered employees but do receive a stipend of $480 per week. The site coordinator will be paid $3,200 per month.

Interns should possess the following characteristics to be successful:

·       Flexible and willing to work long hours and nights and weekends on an unpredictable schedule (depending on needs of the campaign);
·       Adaptable in the face of new challenges and experiences;
·       Able to work in teams and have excellent communication skills;
·       Open to working with people of different races, ethnicities, religions and sexual orientations; and
·       Willing to immerse themselves in an intensive, learning-by-doing experience.

The AFL-CIO has not identified which industries or companies in Atlanta would be targeted but past efforts have focused on fast food and health care establishments.

More information on planned activities is available on the Union Summer website.

The AFL-CIO has also uploaded a video on YouTube discussing their 2015 Union Summer.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Federal statistical agency confirms that Georgia had even a better job growth record than originally reported

After reviewing 2015 jobs data, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has boosted Georgia by additional 27,600 new jobs in 2015. The total brings the state’s job growth up to 118,700 for the last calendar year.

With the adjustment, Georgia’s nonfarm employment at the end of 2015 stood at 4,330,100 jobs – a new record.

Georgia Nonfarm Employment, Jan. 1990 - Jan. 2016, Seasonally Adjusted
The increase means that Georgia’s job growth rate rose from a preliminary figure of 2.2 percent to a final figure of 2.8 percent placing Georgia with the 3rd highest job growth rate among large states in 2015. In 2014, the state recorded a 3.4 percent growth rate.

Only Florida, which grew by 3.2 percent, and California, which grew by 3.1 percent, showed better percentage gains in new jobs among the nation’s 11 largest states.

While impressive, the state’s job growth in 2015 was its second best in this century, still falling short of its 2014 level when Georgia added 137,600 new jobs. Prior to 2014, the last time the state experienced this level of growth was in 1999 when it added 122,400 jobs over the calendar year.

Georgia ended the calendar year with an unemployment rate of 5.5 percent, its lowest unemployment rate for a calendar year since 2007. Over the year, the state’s labor force grew by 38,037 as 80,479 more people found employment and the number of unemployed dropped by 42,442.

Even as the state’s unemployment rate has dropped from double digits during the most recent recession to single digit numbers, Georgia’s labor force has shown little change, a situation that is showing up in labor numbers across the nation. Economists are unsure of the reason for the slow growth of the labor force although some attribute it to an increasing number of retirees as baby boomers retire.

Atlanta Metro Area

The Atlanta area continues to be the state’s main growth engine adding 70,400 jobs in 2015. The metro area’s rate of job growth did slow in 2015, equaling the state’s job growth rate of 2.8 percent but slower than the growth rates recorded for the metro area in 2014 (4.2 percent) and 2013 (3.2 percent).

As of the end of calendar year 2015, the Atlanta metro area was base for 2,622,600 jobs, more than 60 percent of the state’s total nonfarm employment.

Over the calendar year, the metro area accounted for 59 percent of the state’s new jobs.

Each spring, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ nonfarm payroll estimates for states and metropolitan areas are revised as a result of annual benchmark processing to reflect 2015 employment counts primarily from the BLS Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages. These changes are reflected in this release.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Union membership declines in Georgia in 2015

Georgia lost 8,000 union members in 2015, even as the state gained wage and salary workers, according to data recently released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In 2015, the number of wage and salary workers in Georgia grew from 3,926,000 to 4,016,000 while union membership dropped from 170,000 to 162,000. As a result, the percentage of union members in Georgia’s workforce fell from 4.3 percent in 2014 to 4.0 percent in 2015.

Percentage of wage and salary workers in Georgia 
belonging to unions, 2000 to 2015
Georgia recorded the fourth lowest union membership percentage among the 50 states in 2015.

States with the lowest percentage of
wage and salary workers belonging to unions in 2015

South Carolina
North Carolina

In 2000, the union membership rate in Georgia was 6.5 percent, and there were 237,000 union members.

For the nation, the union membership rate--the percent of wage and salary workers who were members of unions--was 11.1 percent in 2015, unchanged from 2014. The number of wage and salary workers belonging to unions, at 14.8 million in 2015, was little different from 2014. In 2000, the union membership rate was 13.4 percent, and there were 16.3 million union workers.

Looking at nearby states, both Alabama and South Carolina posted declines in the percentage of union members. Alabama’s percentage of union members shrank from 10.8 in 2014 to 10.2 in 2015. South Carolina’s percentage fell slightly from 2.2 to 2.1 percent.

The story was different in Florida where, in contrast to Georgia, the percentage of wage and salary workers belonging to unions in Florida grew by 91,000 over the year even while total wage and salary employment decreased by 48,000. As a result, the percentage of union members rose from 5.7 percent in 2014 to 6.8 percent in 2015.

Data on union membership are collected as part of the Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly sample survey of about 60,000 eligible households that obtains information on employment and unemployment among the nation's civilian noninstitutional population age 16 and over. There is about a 90-percent chance, or level of confidence, that an estimate based on a sample will differ by no more than 1.6 standard errors from the true population value because of sampling error. BLS analyses are generally conducted at the 90-percent level of confidence. The state data preserve the long-time practice of highlighting the direction of the movements in state union membership rates and levels regardless of their statistical significance.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Georgia celebrates a strong 2015 job market, with the Atlanta metro area remaining the key to the state's future

Georgia ended 2015 with the 3rd fastest growing job market among the largest 11 states in the nation, those with a job market of 4 million or more nonfarm jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Georgia posted a 2.2 percent rise in calendar year 2015 following only California and Florida, which each posted increases of 2.9 percent.

While Georgia added only 3,300 jobs in December, it averaged nearly 7,600 new jobs each month over the past year for a total of 91,100 net new jobs.  In contrast, California added the most new positions among the 50 states in 2015 at 459,400, followed by Florida, which added 233,100 new jobs.

Of the 11 largest states, only Illinois showed a decrease with a net loss of 3,000 jobs over the year.

Together, the 11 largest states accounted for more than 55 percent of the nation’s new jobs (1,459,900 compared to 2,650,000 nonfarm jobs nationally) with a combined job creation rate of 1.9 percent, equal to the nation’s rate.

5-year recovery from recession

Georgia nonfarm jobs, 2000 - 2015, seasonally adjusted
Despite a slow rebound from the 2007-2009 recession, Georgia has rapidly added jobs over the past three years resulting in a five-year growth spurt of 441,800 jobs. This has resulted in an 11.4 percent rise in its nonfarm employment and places it 4th among the fastest growing large states in the nation.

Other large states with significant five-year growth rates include California (14.2 percent), Texas (14.1 percent), and Florida (13.9 percent).

Large states have been significantly outperforming states with smaller populations since the end of the recession. Since the end of 2010, the 11 largest states have captured 60 percent of the net new nonfarm jobs in the nation.

Atlanta remains a key component of Georgia’s job engine

In 2015, the Atlanta metro area added 77,000 of the state’s 91,100 net new jobs, accounting for 84.5 percent of the state’s growth even as the area is home to approximately 60 percent of the state’s total nonfarm jobs.

Since the end of 2010, the Atlanta metro area has seen the addition of 338,200 jobs, which represents more than 75 percent of all the new jobs in the state.

A good example of the importance of the metro area to the state is in December’s numbers, where the Atlanta metro area’s 200 job decline resulted in a slowdown in the state’s job growth to only 3,300 net new jobs. Without a robust Atlanta economy, the rest of the state cannot maintain job growth by itself.

The drop-off in the Atlanta job market last month was the first time the area had noted a job decrease in a December since 2009.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Is Atlanta running out of workers?

With the Atlanta region seeing continued employment growth, employers may need to leave jobs unfilled if they cannot find sufficient numbers of qualified workers.

Back in 2008-2009 during the recession, it would have been a question that would get you laughed out of a conference: Is the Atlanta region running out of workers?

From the end of 2007 to the beginning of 2010, the Atlanta area shed more than 200,000 jobs. Since then, the area’s employment has grown by more than 390,000. In October alone, the metro area recorded 32,400 new jobs. 

For the 12 months ending in October, the Atlanta metro area’s 3.5% increase placed it as the largest percentage increase among the nation’s 10 top population centers, beating areas like Dallas and Los Angeles and far outdistancing the nation’s 2% employment increase.At the same time, as impressive as the job creation has been, so far 2015 has seen a net increase of 9,100 fewer jobs compared to the same period in 2014.

Are businesses in the Atlanta area creating fewer new jobs simply because they are running out of good candidates to hire? If so, what options are available to increase the pool of available workers?

Labor Force

Back during the depths of the recession, Atlanta’s labor force (which the government defines as the number of workers employed plus those unemployed but actively seeking work) hit a low of about 2.7 million after climbing steadily over the previous 18 years. The drop off could easily be explained by the large number of workers who, faced with unemployment, chose instead early retirement or just became discouraged and dropped out of the labor force.

It was expected that as the economy improved, those workers would rejoin the labor force. Since that low point, labor force for the Atlanta metro area has grown much slower than the number of new jobs. From 2010 to 2012, about 102,000 people were added to the area’s labor force. Since then, only another 27,000 have been added in the past 30 months.

The slow growth in labor force is not confined to Georgia. Looking forward, a recent federal government report anticipates that rate of growth in the nation’s labor force will continue to decline. From 1994 to 2004, the nation’s labor force grew by 12.5%. The government now expects the U.S. labor force to grow by only 5.0% from 2014 to 2024.

Population is not an issue in the Atlanta metro area as the region continues to add people. The Census Bureau estimates that between 2010 and 2014, the Atlanta metro area has added more than 327,000 new residents.

What happened to the rest? Economists speculate that the lack of growth in labor force numbers can be attributed to two simultaneous trends. With an ageing population, it is thought that older workers are retiring, while younger folks choose school over work believing that more education will make them more valuable to employers in the future. It is also possible that some discouraged workers forced out of the labor force from the recession have given up and will never return.

There are some anecdotal information in support of these theories. In addition, the recession saw a spike in the number of workers applying for Social Security disability. Those on permanent disability may represent an additional group of former workers who plan to never return to employment.

Migration within Georgia

While the Atlanta area has been “red hot” in terms of job growth, the same cannot be said for the rest of the state. Smaller metro areas, such as Albany and Brunswick, actually continue to record employment losses. The Albany area employs about the same number of workers as it did in the early 1990's, while Brunswick and Valdosta have reported no net job growth in the past 10 years.

Could these workers be persuaded to move to the Atlanta area? It is possible, although it would be mainly younger workers and the more educated who would be most likely to seek out new opportunities leaving behind an older, less educated workforce in those areas.

While it is certain that these areas would like to attract businesses to relocate to their areas, increasingly, it appears that large metro areas provide benefits not available in smaller communities. These benefits include a large number of potential customers, easy interaction with both suppliers and customers, and improved social and cultural infrastructure (schools, hospitals, museums, music venues, etc.) that are simply not available without a large population.

Even if Atlanta was able to attract more workers from these three smaller metro areas, their combined labor forces are less than 175,000. Moving even 10% of these to Atlanta would boost the Atlanta metro by only 17,000 or so. It would take migration from all parts of Georgia to significantly boost the Atlanta area’s labor force, which already accounts for approximately half of the state’s labor force.

Migration from other states

The Atlanta region has had particular success in encouraging people from other parts of the U.S. to relocate to the Atlanta region. Much of the area’s growth in the 1990's came from people moving from other southeastern states, as well as the Northeast and Midwest, to Georgia.

Some of the causes of this previous migration might be hard to re-create. Previous so-called “rust belt” states are also experiencing recovering economies so that people are not as desperate to move from their home areas. While Georgia has previously exploited its role as a “right-to-work” state, other states, such as Indiana and Michigan have now passed similar laws. West Virginia may be the next state to remove this incentive for companies to relocate to Georgia.

Finally, the return migration of African-Americans back to southern states has occurred and is not likely to be repeated in such a large scale in the future.

Migration from outside the U.S.

Unlike the Northeast, Georgia did not greatly benefit from an influx of European immigrants in the 19th Century. A report from the Pew Research Center indicates that from 2009 to 2014, the number of Mexicans in the United States actually declined by a net of 130,000. The report speculates that “the slow recovery of the U.S. economy after the Great Recession may have made the U.S. less attractive to potential Mexican migrants and may have pushed out some Mexican immigrants as the U.S. job market deteriorated. In addition, stricter enforcement of U.S. immigration laws, particularly at the U.S.-Mexico border (Rosenblum and Meissner, 2014), may have contributed to the reduction of Mexican immigrants coming to the U.S. in recent years.”

As immigrants find better opportunities closer to home, they are less likely to search for jobs in the U.S. Those immigrants who are more likely to come to the U.S., such as Syrians, Iraqis, and others whose own homelands are being disrupted by war, are finding it harder to emigrate as the U.S. strengthens its barriers to entry.

As state leaders speak about in discouraging the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Georgia, the result might not only dampen Middle Eastern refugees’ enthusiasm for relocating to Georgia, it may also give pause to immigrants from other parts of the world who might feel that Georgia is not a welcoming location for any non-U.S. citizens regardless of religion or national origin.


Labor Force: Enticing people back into the labor force may take a combination of offering higher wages and providing social support (such as daycare, improved transportation, etc.) to make work both possible and profitable. Other possibilities include allowing more work to be done at home. Education, often offered by policymakers as a solution, might have long-term effects, but cannot quickly solve the current deficits in the labor force.

Migration within Georgia: The Georgia Department of Labor can make information about job availability in the Atlanta area more readily available to residents in other parts of the state. There may need to communicate the advantages of moving to the Atlanta area, even to the point of helping people understand their options for housing, transportation, etc.

Migration from other states: The Georgia Department of Economic Development could begin a campaign similar to their corporate relocation and expansion efforts but one targeted at workers rather than companies. By focusing on certain skillsets that are most in demand, the agency could encourage both new workers and existing workers to consider relocating to Georgia for their career futures.

Migration from outside the U.S.: Georgia needs to make clear that citizens from other nations with legal work visas are welcomed in the state and help encourage conditions that help immigrants make an easier transition to living in Georgia.

Finally, a less desirable solution to the labor force problem is to have the state’s economy slow down so that the state’s businesses will have less need for additional workers. While it is unlikely that the state would cause such a slowdown deliberately, Georgia is very tied to the national economy and another national recession will certainly impact the state’s business community. Remembering that the previous recession ended six years ago, it is certainly possible that another downturn will develop, which will relieve pressure on Georgia’s slow-growth labor force.

Without any of these solutions, Georgia’s employment numbers may fade on their own as businesses fail to find qualified applicants and leave jobs unfilled.