Showing posts with label bls. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bls. Show all posts

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Workers protest outside of Federal Labor Department offices in Atlanta

The Southeast regional offices of the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics were picketed on Wednesday by 81 employees who work for Office Resources Inc. (ORI), a contractor at the Atlanta offices of BLS.

The group was joined by Charlie Flemming, president of the Georgia AFL-CIO.




An online video of the protest is available here.

The ORI workers are fighting for their first union contract after joining the International Association of Machinists last year.

BLS contracts out part of its collection activities including telephone collection for their Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) and the Current Employment Statistics (CES) survey that produces national employment information.

The BLS Southeast Region handles data collection for a number of statistical surveys, including the Consumer Price Index, most of which are collected by federal employees led by long-time Regional Commissioner Janet Rankin.

While BLS is an agency of the U.S. Department of Labor, it has traditionally kept its distance from other USDOL agencies and tried to avoid controversial and political issues.

The agency describes itself as “the principal fact-finding agency for the Federal Government in the broad field of labor economics and statistics.”

The BLS mission “is to collect, analyze, and disseminate essential economic information to support public and private decision-making. As an independent statistical agency, BLS serves its diverse user communities by providing products and services that are objective, timely, accurate, and relevant.”

The BLS Director for Public Affairs was unavailable for comment.


Friday, September 18, 2015

Lower unemployment rate hides slowdown in Atlanta job market

Georgia's 5.9% unemployment rate hides the slowdown in the Atlanta area, which saw only 600 new jobs in August. 

Labor force continues to decline

Georgia reported a 5.9% unemployment rate for August, higher than the nation’s average of 5.1%, but still below its rate of 7.1% recorded in August 2014.

The headline rate disguises the slowdown in Georgia’s economy, and specifically in the Atlanta area.

The lower unemployment rate is due to people not participating in the current labor force. Since last August, Georgia has lost 6,137 people from its labor force, while the U.S. has added over 1 million.

Other economic indicators tend to show that the state is gaining population and workers, not losing them, so it is logical to assume that the true number of people who could be included in the labor force is growing at least at the same rate as the nation if not faster.

If the state’s labor force was growing at the same rate as the nation, August’s unemployment rate for Georgia would be at 6.5%.

This rate is more consistent with the evidence showing in the nonfarm jobs report also issued this week by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Nonfarm Employment grows modestly

Georgia recorded a modest 2,200 increase in August and reported 83,200 jobs over the year. The numbers translate into a 2.0% annual increase, slightly below the nation’s 2.1% job creation rate.
Over the past three months, Georgia has averaged 8,600 new jobs each month. As a comparison, the state recorded an average of 39,200 jobs for the comparable period in 2014.

The slowing rate caused Georgia to drop again in the state rankings of job creators. In June, the state was 6th best in the nation, in July it dropped to 8th place, and in August it now stands at 9th position.
In August, states adding more jobs than Georgia over the 12 months included (in order of number of jobs added): California, Florida, Texas, New York, North Carolina, Washington, Michigan, and Massachusetts.

Slowdown in Atlanta MSA offset by higher growth in rest of State


The slower growth rate for the state is directly attributable to the lower rate of job growth in the Atlanta area in August.

Last month, the Atlanta metro area added only 600 of the 2,200 new jobs recorded statewide. This is a remarkable turn for the Atlanta area, which had been the main driver of job growth over most of the previous 11 months.

For the three months ending in August, the Atlanta area lost 2,100 jobs compared to a loss of only 700 jobs for the same period in 2014.

Over the past 12 months, the Atlanta metro area has accounted for 69,800 of the 83,200 new jobs created in Georgia, or almost 84% of the state’s new jobs for an area that is home to almost 61% of the state’s employment.

In the Atlanta area, the noticeable slowdown in August was in the sector that is seen as Atlanta’s growth engine – Professional and Business Services. This sector includes engineering, accounting, and consulting firms; but it also includes employment agencies (temporary and permanent employment), which also showed slowing in August.

It is possible this is a one-month aberration due to a statistical or survey anomaly, but it will be worth watching over the next two months to see if the slowdown continues or will be wiped away by revisions in the data.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Police in Metro Atlanta and Georgia underpaid?

Pay for police in Georgia is around the lowest in the nation.

In 2014, police officers in the Atlanta metro area received average annual pay of $41,430, well below the average pay for comparable work done by officers in the Charlotte, N.C., and Dallas, Texas, metropolitan areas according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics.

In the Charlotte area, police received an average of $48,150, while in the Dallas area officers were paid an average of $59,840. Both areas have been used by the AJC as benchmarks to compare Atlanta’s economic progress over the past year.

Low pay in the Atlanta Police Department has been highlighted in news articles running in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that have focused on Atlanta police officers’ effort to gain a pay raise under Mayor Kasim Reed.

The low pay is showing up in turnover and lower morale among APD officers according to people interviewed by the AJC.

Police Statewide Georgia

While some officers may choose to switch to other jurisdictions in the state for higher pay, the unfortunate reality is that the low pay for Atlanta officers also reflects the low pay statewide for police in Georgia, which averaged $38,250.

In 2014, only Mississippi, with salaries averaging $32,740, reported lower average pay for police officers statewide than Georgia.  Pay for police in Arkansas at $37,730 and South Carolina at $38,630 were comparable to pay in Georgia.

Average salaries for police in the other 46 states all exceeded the average pay in Georgia.
For police looking to relocate to a higher paying state, New Jersey recorded the highest average pay for police at $88,530. Other states with high average pay included California, Alaska, New York, and Washington.

Firefighters

While pay for firefighters in the Atlanta metro area and statewide Georgia is also low, their pay relative to other areas is less dramatic.

Firefighters in the Atlanta metro area averaged $35,640 in 2014, while those employed in the Charlotte area averaged $34,930 and those employed in the Dallas metro received $50,390.

Statewide, Georgia firefighters averaged $33,810, and although among the 10 lowest paid in the nation, still equal or above 8 other states, including West Virginia, which recorded the nation’s lowest pay at $29,180.

New Jersey firefighters came in highest at $77,550 followed by firefighters in New York, California, and Washington.


Thursday, August 20, 2015

U.S. job creation catches up with Georgia in July

12-month job growth falls below 100,000 for first time in 17 months

Georgia saw the creation of 6,400 net new jobs in July 2015, according to preliminary seasonally adjusted data released today by the Georgia Department of Labor.

The new information also included a revision that wiped out all the jobs reported in the prior month. 

In June, the labor department announced that 2,300 jobs were added. With the revision, it is now reporting that the state actually lost 4,100 jobs in June.

Among industries in the state in July, retailing (+2,800), professional and business services (+3,100), and local government (+4,300) were significant contributors to the state’s job growth.


Losses occurred mainly in private educational services (-2,100) and state government (-2,400).

Annual job creation slows

For the 12 months ending in July, the state saw 89,400 jobs created, an increase of 2.1 %.

As a result of slower employment growth, 12-month job growth fell below 100,000 for the first time in 17 months. July marked the first time since the beginning of 2013 that state job growth did not exceed the national average.

In some states, like North Dakota, their jobs slowdown can be partially attributed to falling oil prices that have resulted in layoffs in oil and gas production. Since Georgia has little oil and gas, its employment is unaffected by reductions in oil and gas production, and the state’s economy should be benefiting from lower energy costs. Instead, it is recording a marked slowdown.
Metro Areas are key

The Atlanta metro area created 13,200 jobs in July, and the Savannah area saw another 2,000 jobs added. Other metro areas with positive job growth included Albany (+400), Athens (+100), Brunswick (+100), Columbus (+600), Dalton (+200), and Rome (+100).

Metro areas reporting seasonally adjusted declines in July included Augusta (-500), Gainesville (-1,000), Hinesville (-300), Macon (-1,000), and Valdosta (-700).

While the Atlanta metro area is home to approximately 61 % of jobs in Georgia, it has been responsible for almost 85 % of the state’s job growth over the past 12 months.

Unemployment rate

The state’s unemployment rate stood at 6.0 % in July compared to 7.3 % in July 2014 as the state’s labor force continues to shrink.

While many see a lower unemployment rate as a positive sign for the economy, when drops occur due to people leaving the labor market, it can be a negative indicator.


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Where did Zippia go wrong?


Web site names Cochran, Dublin among worst places to find work in Georgia

Zippia lists themselves as career experts. They may be but they are not experts in labor statistics. In July, they published “These Are The 10 Worst Places In Georgia To Get A Job”.

Unsurprisingly, officials in some of those cities and towns were not pleased to see their localities appear on that list.

"Dublin is the regional hub for about 15 counties in Middle Georgia from a labor and employment standpoint. So if there's been a more successful community for job creation in this state, I'd like to know about it," according to Brad Lofton, development authority president in Dublin, as quoted by WMGT-TV.

On its website, Zippia says it used the following criteria to determine its list:

·       Unemployment rate
·       Recent job growth
·       Future job growth
·       Sales Tax
·       Median household income

So how did Zippia use statistics to come to its misleading conclusions?

Unemployment rate

Confusing employment with jobs is a common mistake. The unemployment rate is determined by an estimate based on households. By definition, it measures where people live, not where they work.

It is much better to measure relative job opportunities by looking at the number of jobs growing or declining in an area, not the number of people employed in that area.  

Cochran Mayor Michael Stoy makes a good point in the same story when he says, "We are looking at a large percentage of our population that goes up to Warner Robins."

When BLS or the Georgia Department of Labor counts a new job, that job is counted in the community where it is created. When a statistical agency counts the number of employed or unemployed, they are counted based on where the people live not where they work.

For example, my neighborhood, in a suburb of Atlanta, has only houses in it, so by definition, it would be regarded as a bad place to get a job since the neighborhood is residential with no businesses. Residents have jobs outside the neighborhood, so their jobs are counted where they go to work. If they commute to Atlanta, the job is counted as located in Atlanta, but they are counted as employed in my neighborhood. If a resident loses a job in Atlanta, they would be counted as unemployed where they live, in my neighborhood in this example, not in the City of Atlanta.

There is an undeserved negative connotation in listing a place as “worse to get a job” if the people in that area commute elsewhere for employment. Unless you believe that everyone should work out of their homes, using unemployment statistics to measure job growth is a poor choice.

Recent job growth

Recent job growth (or decline) should be the number one, and perhaps, only criteria to determine “worst places to get a job.” It is hard to know the data used by the site in determining job numbers because they are very general in their description.

For example, it says about Fitzgerald, Ga., “The city ranks as having the weakest recent job growth.” 

Hard to judge based on that general statement, which is more definitive than some of the statements for other cities and towns on the list. Here is where hard numbers and some definitions would help.

Future job growth

The Bureau of Labor Statistics produces an occupational outlook for the United States, and the Georgia Department of Labor produces a similar report for Georgia. 

Beyond these two reports, job forecasting for small cities and towns is much more problematic.

It is true that smaller areas in Georgia have not seen the growth of the larger metro areas such as Atlanta, and that is worrying, but it is difficult, if not impossible to accurately forecast growth for a particular small area.

This is even truer for smaller areas, because an area with a small employment base can be radically affected by the opening or closure of one establishment. I also don’t know how much into the future they are attempting to forecast, but it is hard to make an accurate forecast of job growth in a small area beyond 6 months.

It is easier to forecast larger areas, such as states, than smaller areas like communities where small changes can have large impacts.

Sales tax

I have no idea how sales tax relates to getting a job, and I don’t know if they are speaking about the amount of sales tax or the growth rate of the tax. I am sure the site has some way of using these data, but it is not obvious.

Median household income

Poorer areas tend to have fewer services, and jobs in poor areas tend to pay less. That impacts the salaries for jobs, but not the number of jobs themselves. The “study” was to be about the worst places to find a job, not a study of the areas with the lowest paying jobs. 

The two criteria are not the same. Georgia is growing faster than many states with higher median household income. 

Hopefully, the web site does a better job of finding employment for people than giving advice.

Job losses in Georgia counties

Below are two tables that may be more useful than the information provided by Zippia. 

The first shows the largest net job losses for Georgia counties in 2014. The second shows the largest percentage job losses in Georgia counties in 2014. There is some overlap, but many of the counties on each list are different, as you might expect. Both tables are looking back on 2014, not forecasting the future.

As a comparison using the same source, Georgia, as a state, added 147,335 job in 2014 for a growth rate of 3.7%.

Table A. Net job losses in calendar year 2014

Baldwin -708
Colquitt -453
Telfair -338
Dawson -255
Upson -253
Thomas -242
Marion -200
Stephens -199
Dodge -165
Elbert -151

Table B. Percentage job losses in calendar year 2014

Marion -12.8%
Talbot -10.2%
Telfair -9.0%
Wheeler -8.9%
Heard -6.4%
Clay -4.8%
Twiggs -4.5%
Baldwin -4.5%
Glascock -4.3%
Webster -4.0%

Data obtained from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages.