Showing posts with label ga rural development. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ga rural development. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Focus on job losses in Georgia's rural counties

The Georgia House Rural Development Council has released its plan to reverse declines in Georgia’s rural population.

Statewide, Georgia has seen remarkable employment growth since the recession. Following the combined loss of 329,000 jobs in 2008 and 2009, the state has added more than 670,000 jobs.

State of Georgia, QCEW Total Employment

Unfortunately, not all of Georgia’s 159 counties have fared so well. While for metro areas in the state, including Atlanta and Savannah, have done well, 10 years later 43 counties still show employment levels below those prior to the beginning of the recession.

While the continuing growth in the national and state’s economy will allow some of those 43 counties to finally grow above their pre-recession employment levels, for a few of the counties, the gap between pre-recession employment and current employment levels remains large.

Among those still suffering from the economic downturn, the counties of Ben Hill, Mitchell, and Murray are still showing net job losses of 25% or more 10 years later.

Employment in Ben Hill County has fallen by a net of 2,000 jobs, Mitchell County by 2,100, and Murray County by 3,200 jobs since 2007.

Ben Hill County, Ga., QCEW Total Employment
Mitchell County, Ga., QCEW Total Employment

Murray County, Ga., QCEW Total Employment

Losses in Construction and Manufacturing Key Indicators

For all three counties, job losses in construction and manufacturing have been major contributors to the overall decline in employment.

Manufacturing was a significant employer in all three rural counties. Ben Hill and Mitchell counties, located in rural South Georgia, have lost more than 1,100 manufacturing jobs each; while Murray County, located in North Georgia on the Tennessee border, has posted a 2,300 job decline in manufacturing.

In Ben Hill, construction employment has declined 75%, while the industry has recorded declines of more than 60% in Mitchell and Murray counties.

Not surprisingly, as jobs disappeared, people have moved to find more opportunities. While Georgia’s population continues to grow, the Census Bureau is estimating population drops in all three of these counties.

Growing Industries

Despite the overall declines in these counties, some industries have seen employment increases, although these have not been sufficient to stem the overall drops in jobs.

Ben Hill County has added a net 72 more jobs in natural resources and mining, while its professional and business services sector has grown by 165 jobs since 2007.

In Mitchell County, the leisure and hospitality sector has added 22 jobs over the past decade.

For Murray County, employment growth has centered on professional and business services, up by 382 jobs, while the leisure and hospitality industry has added 42 jobs.

Legislature wants to reverse this trend

Efforts by the counties alone are unlikely to repair the employment damage done by the past recession. Even state intervention may be inadequate as there are few successful models of rural rejuvenation in the U.S.

Nevertheless, Georgia’s lawmakers have at least identified the problem and the legislature is now looking for ways to reverse it, but this task will not be easy or quick.

Read the full recommendations from the House Rural Development Council here