Showing posts with label georgia labor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label georgia labor. Show all posts

Monday, April 26, 2021

More than 800,000 Georgians work in low-wage occupations with substitute teachers and restaurant workers among lowest paid jobs

 



Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Short-term substitute teachers and restaurant workers were among the lowest paid occupations in Georgia according to survey data released in April by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics program.

In Georgia, the median wage for a substitute teacher was $9.08 per hour, while waiters and waitresses averaged $9.12. Both wage rates are classified as low wage and were less than 50 percent of the median wage of $18.59 recorded in the state for all occupations.

In all, nearly 845,000 Georgians worked in low-wage occupations where the median wage was less than $12.45 per hour. Low-wage occupations are defined as those that pay 2/3’s or less of the state’s median wage. Approximately 1.4 million Georgians are in occupations where the median wage is below $15 per hour.

Substitute teachers

The median wage for substitute teachers in metro areas of Georgia ranged from $8.61 in the Columbus metro area to $11.74 in the Hinesville metro area. The Atlanta metro area, which was home to largest percentage of substitute teachers in the state, paid a median wage of $9.09, close to the state average.

While the median wage was relatively uniform among areas, some areas reported a much higher average wage. The Valdosta metro area posted a median wage of $8.98 per hour, but an average wage of $17.54. The Macon area recorded a median wage of $11.65 but an average wage of $14.71.

The median wage provides the middle number among workers, the average reflects wages that tend to be outliers both at the lower and higher ends of the range. In a normal distribution of wages, the median and average wage would be close, but a higher average wage as compared to the median reflects higher wages being paid for some substitutes, perhaps reflecting more years of service to their educational systems or pay for some additional skills or educational background.

Restaurant workers

Of the lowest paid occupations in the state, those occupations with a median pay of between $9 to $10 per hour, 80 percent (237,000) were in occupations normally associated with full-service and limited-service restaurants.

The largest group were fast food and counter workers with median wages of $9.29 per hour followed by waiters and waitresses with median wages of $9.12. The highest paid group were dishwashers with median wages of $

In May 2020, eight food-related occupations employed more than 247,000 people in Georgia, while in May 2019, these same occupations employed more than 289,000 workers, a more than 15 percent decline.

Combined, these seven occupations employed more than 237,000 people in the state in 2020 with a median wage of less than $9.30 per hour.

With the coronavirus-related restrictions on restaurants, the number of people in these food-related positions actually declined 14 percent from 2019, when they totaled 275,660 workers.


About the data

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey is a semiannual survey

measuring occupational employment and wage rates for wage and salary workers in nonfarm

establishments in the United States. The OEWS data available from BLS include cross-

industry occupational employment and wage estimates for the nation; over 580 areas,

including states and the District of Columbia, metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs),

nonmetropolitan areas, and territories; national industry-specific estimates at the

NAICS sector, 3-digit, most 4-digit, and selected 5- and 6-digit industry levels;

and national estimates by ownership across all industries and for schools and hospitals.

 

The OEWS survey is a cooperative effort between BLS and the State Workforce Agencies

(SWAs). BLS funds the survey and provides the procedures and technical support, while

the State Workforce Agencies collect most of the data. OEWS estimates are constructed

from a sample of about 1.1 million establishments. Each year, two semiannual panels

of approximately 180,000 to 185,000 sampled establishments are contacted, one panel

in May and the other in November. Responses are obtained by mail, Internet or other

electronic means, email, telephone, or personal visit. The May 2020 estimates are based

on responses from six semiannual panels collected over a 3-year period: May 2020,

November 2019, May 2019, November 2018, May 2018, and November 2017. The unweighted

sampled employment of 83 million across all six semiannual panels represents

approximately 56 percent of total national employment. The overall national response

rate for the six panels, based on the 50 states and the District of Columbia, is 69

percent based on establishments and 66 percent based on weighted sampled employment. 

 


Thursday, August 13, 2020

How bad is Georgia hurting? State receives first $85 million installment of $1.1 billion loan request for unemployment trust fund

 

In June, the Tax Foundation published a study of state unemployment insurance trust funds. 
Georgia ranked at #21 out of 50. Since then, the picture has continued to deteriorate.
Map Source: Tax Foundation

Before March, Georgia looked to have one of the more solvent unemployment insurance trust funds. 

That is no longer true, as Georgia is receiving an $85 million loan to replenish its unemployment trust fund, which is quickly running out of cash as the state’s insured unemployment rate remains elevated.

The funds are the first installment of a $1.1 billion request made to the U.S. Department of Treasury by Governor Kemp, as reported by The Center Square

Figures from the most recent Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims report published by the U.S. Department of Labor shows that 633,988 people in Georgia were receiving unemployment insurance benefits as of July 25, 2020, in contrast to the 25,618 people who received them a year ago. 

As of the end of July, the state’s insured unemployment rate stood at 14.4%. 

The Georgia Department of Labor announced that as of July 28, 2020, the trust fund balance was $585,483,621, down $1.962 billion, or 77 percent, from the March 24 balance of $2,547,476,454.  

Last month, Governor Kemp as the U.S. Department of Treasury to loan Georgia $85 million in August, $585 million in September, and $430 million in October. The current loan is the first installment related to that request. 

States that receive loans are expected to repay that money to the U.S. Treasury by either increasing state’s payroll tax on employers or from general funds. 

Interest is usually paid from the state’s general fund, and payroll taxes will most likely increase, potentially hurting workers and employers, Greg Georgia, director of the Center for Economic Analysis at Middle Georgia State University, told The Center Square. 

"When the state has to borrow money to supplement that fund now, that's probably general fund spending," George said. "So, it's just a way of spreading the pain to the broader taxpayer base." 

In June, the Tax Foundation conducted an analysis of the solvency of states’ unemployment insurance trust funds and noted that Georgia ranked 21st in its solvency level at 1.25. Any state with a solvency level of 1.0 or greater was deemed to have unemployment insurance sufficient to weather a recession. 

California ranked worse at number 50 with a solvency level of 0.21, while Vermont controlled the most solvent of the state trust funds with a solvency rank of 2.53. 

Despite the high number of claims being paid weekly by the Georgia Department of Labor, there are still accusations that the department has failed to pay all claims dating back to the middle of March. 

The state says it has paid benefits on 92% of valid claims since March. 

“As additional claims are being filed, we have been able to maintain an impressive ratio of eligible claims filed to payouts,” said Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. “Record breaking payout rates represent a new standard for this department as we strive to better serve Georgians.”


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).

Employment/unemployment

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.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Tropical storm Irma had minimal effect on Georgia’s employment and that is worrying


Georgia nonfarm employment, Jan-Sep 2017, in thousands, seasonally adjusted


Nobody was surprised when Georgia’s employment numbers for September showed a 500-job loss, after seasonal adjustment. Most blamed it on Irma, which hit Florida as a hurricane and was downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it came through Georgia.

State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler told WUGA that the storm caused Georgia’s job numbers to fall and unemployment claims to rise in September. Butler said a 240 percent jump for the month in the coastal region drove the state’s numbers to some degree.

“It wasn’t because of some kind of economic issue that happened where there was some problem with the economy,” according to Butler. “Most of what we saw with the jobs and initial claims has to do with the storm.”

It is true that the largest disruptions occurred in the Savannah area, which experienced a mandatory evacuation although the storm itself failed to seriously impact the coastal area.

If the job losses were storm-related, then temporary and contract employment should have shown the greatest losses. These jobs lack the security of regular employment and so are the most likely to be impacted when businesses suddenly stop operations even for a few days.

Unfortunately, in September, employment services in the state actually gained 5,300 jobs in September, before seasonal adjustment. That is above the 4,600 jobs gained in September 2016 when there was no storm.

Job losses concentrated in three industries partially offset by gains in two others

Georgia’s job losses in September were concentrated in three key industries: construction, manufacturing, and retail trade.

Construction jobs fell by 3,600 over the month, followed by a 2,900 job decline in retail trade and a 2,800 job drop in manufacturing.

The reason overall losses were not larger can be attributed to gains in education and health services (+4,200) and leisure and hospitality (+2,800).

Again, if the tropical storm had caused significant job losses, leisure and hospitality would have been one of the key industries to suffer.

It is possible some construction jobs were lost due to the inclement weather, but even if they were, that would not explain the loss of manufacturing or retail jobs in September.

On the other hand, manufacturing might represent not a loss of manufacturing activity, but a decreased need to hire more people as automation takes on a larger role in the manufacturing process.

For retail, job losses might reflect the increasing effect of the internet and online purchasing. Retailers are being cautious as they see online sales rise.

Looking ahead to Christmas, there is sure to be seasonal hiring in the months of October and November, but it is possible to see a continued decline in retail jobs after the first of the year.

One month does not make a trend

Monthly numbers are subject to wide variations month-to-month, despite the Bureau of Labor Statistics’s attempts smooth out the changes using seasonal adjustment factors.

It is too soon to say whether the losses in September represent something significant, but it is worth watching future months.

Expect to see some job pick-up in construction from storm-related repairs, and a boost in October before settling down to more usual numbers in November. 

Then we will be able to see if September was a fluke or the beginning of a trend.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Georgia State AFL-CIO Condemns the Domestic Terrorism and Hatred in Charlottesville, Virginia.


By Charlie Flemming, August 15 - 2:11 pm

"Over the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, the nation and the world witnessed the hateful views and terrorist acts committed by white supremacists and neo-Nazis. This racism and bigotry has no place in America. In this country, we have always fought, in solidarity, for equality and justice and against these and other diabolical prejudices.

This is the time for leadership. Our leaders, both in DC and under the Gold Dome, must acknowledge this for what it is: domestic terrorism rooted in bigotry.

The hearts and prayers of Georgia’s Labor Movement are with all the victims, but especially the families of those who lost their lives: Heather Heyer and state Troopers Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates.  We pray for everyone’s safety. The labor movement condemns this domestic terrorism and remains committed to eradicating the despicable causes of hatred and intolerance.

If you would like to learn more about everything that happened in Charlottesville this weekend, please read more in this Washington Post article."

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Is this the future for construction workers at Plant Vogtle? Lessons from South Carolina

Plant Vogtle units 3 & 4 under construction

When the decision was made to stop work on the two nuclear power plants in South Carolina, construction workers didn’t receive much notice of layoff, according to the following report first published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. This may be the future for Plant Vogtle workers building Units 3 & 4 if Southern Company decides to end work on the costly and long-delayed project.

Westinghouse: Project canceled 'without warning' By Anya Litvak / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A week after efforts to build two Westinghouse power plants came to a screeching halt in South Carolina, the Cranberry-based nuclear firm chronicled the shock of the moment and began dealing with the aftershocks.

About 6,000 people worked at the V.C. Summer site where two utilities, SCG&E and Santee Cooper, had commissioned Westinghouse Electric Co. to build two AP1000 power plants nine years ago.

Westinghouse had hundreds of its own employees at the site last week when the South Carolina utilities decided to stop the construction project that already was years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget. The decision stemmed in large part from Westinghouse’s March 29 bankruptcy, the utilities said. 

But their move came “without warning,” Westinghouse said in a document filed with the bankruptcy court Monday.

The project owners did not give Westinghouse any notice before dismissing its subcontractors and vendors on the job, telling them to “halt all shipments and suspend or demobilize all work in progress,” the nuclear company said.

The utilities also restricted Westinghouse’s access to the project, the company said, “escorting its employees off the site using armed personnel, and subsequently only allowing entry to a handful of Westinghouse’s representatives and subcontractors, preventing Westinghouse from generally accessing the site” and carrying out its responsibilities.

The same was true for other workers like Kenneth Blind, a nuclear construction technician with Fluor Corp., the Texas-based firm that Westinghouse brought in in late 2015 to get the troubled construction work back on track.

Mr. Blind echoed Westinghouse’s account of what it was like on the day the project was canceled.

He found it strange that the Friday before the dismissals craft workers suddenly were told to hand in their work packages — binders with work instructions necessary to do their jobs, he said.

But the day before, Scana Corp., which owns part of the VC Summer project, had announced that Westinghouse’s parent company Toshiba Corp. had agreed to a $2.2 billion guarantee for the power plants. Mr. Blind took that as a good sign.

So did Westinghouse, which wrote in its bankruptcy filing on Monday that negotiating Toshiba’s commitment sent the message of wanting the projects to continue.

On the morning of July 31, things at V.C. Summer continued as usual. Mr. Blind’s team was starting to pour concrete for one of the buildings near the reactor. Around 11 a.m., a security guard approached him and asked if he would be sent home, too.

Too? Mr. Blind asked.

He went to find his boss, who then called his boss — a scene that was playing out across the huge site where thousands of workers were grasping at rumors. Word of armed guards had started to spread.


At an “all-hands meeting” at 2 p.m., they were told it was their last day on the job and thanked for their contribution to the project, Mr. Blind said.

People were angry, he recalled, and some were crying.

They began hustling to collect their stuff. “If you couldn't fit it through the turnstiles, you just had to leave it,” he said.

Now begins the work of “demobilizing” and “stabilizing” the site, Westinghouse said, vowing in a court document to seek payment from the South Carolina utilities for its part of the winding down process.

On Monday, Westinghouse also asked the court to allow it to break thousands of contracts associated with the V.C. Summer project. The contracts cover everything from engineering services and security protection to scaffolding and urine testing.

Had the project owners negotiated with Westinghouse to take over control of the power plant construction, as Southern Co. did with the Vogtle project in Georgia, these contracts would have likely changed hands from Westinghouse to the South Carolina utilities.

Now, they will join the long march of unsecured creditors in Westinghouse’s mammoth bankruptcy.

Anya Litvak: alitvak@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1455.

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, 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.

Unemployment

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


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Georgia farm leaders complain about U.S. Labor Department threatening their 2016 crops

Georgia’s Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black joined other farm leaders in Washington on April 22, 2016, to complain about U.S. Department of Labor delays in processing H-2A applications.



Agriculture is Georgia’s largest industry, and many farmers depend on temporary, nonimmigrant workers to plant and harvest crops and handle other agriculture-related activities, especially fruits and vegetables, such as blueberries, which are becoming an increasing percentage of Georgia’s agricultural output.

Commissioner Black stated that he had look at a survey of 56 contracts in Georgia and found that “about 1,200 workers arrived on time and nearly 3,000 workers have been late with an average of 8 days.”

Commissioner Black stated that blueberry growers in South Georgia are beginning their annual harvesting now with one producer having contracted for 514 people who were due 3 weeks ago.

Bill Brim of Lewis Taylor Farms in Tifton, Georgia, said that he has used the cumbersome and arduous H-2A program since 1997 to pick the farm’s 6,000 acres of produce.

Mr. Brim said he understood that USDA, the U.S. Department of Labor and the Department of Homeland Security “have their problems that they deal with on a daily basis as well, but they have a little control over their process, and we don’t.”

Right now, Mr. Brim says Georgia has blueberries, squash and cucumbers coming in and “we don’t have the labor to pick it.”

Zippy Duvall, President of the American Farm Bureau Federation and past president of the Georgia Farm Bureau, said that the Department of Labor is required to approve H-2A applications 30 days prior to when farmers need workers in the field, but that deadline is routinely missed.

“The backlog is about 30 days in the processing of H2A applications,” Duvall said. “Crops are not going to wait for the labor to get there. Crops will continue to mature and rot in the field if we do not get something done and done quickly.”

Section 218 of the Immigration and Nationality Act authorizes the lawful admission into the United States of temporary, nonimmigrant workers (H-2A workers) to perform agricultural labor or services of a temporary or seasonal nature. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) is responsible for stating, among other things, that there are not sufficient workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available, and that the employment of aliens will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of workers similarly employed in the U.S.

H-2A workers and domestic workers in corresponding employment must be paid special rates of pay that vary by locality, must be provided housing and transportation from that housing to the job site if their employment requires them to be away from their residence overnight, and must be guaranteed an offer of employment for a total number of hours equal to at least 75% of the work period specified in the contract.

The issue of a scarcity of bringing in farm labor from other countries comes at a time of national debate over immigration.

While H-2A workers are meant to be in the U.S. only temporarily and not meant to be permanent immigrants, the role of foreign workers either on a temporary or more permanent basis is becoming more controversial in this Presidential election year.

The Department of Labor retorts that they have processed 90 percent of H-2A applications in a timely manner.

DOL defines “timely” as the percentage of “complete H-2A applications resolved 30 days before the start date of need. A complete H-2A application is defined as one containing all the documentation (e.g., housing inspection report, workers’ compensation, recruitment report) necessary for the OFLC Certifying Officer to issue a final determination 30 days before the start date of need.”

The U.S. Department of Labor made their statistics available, which can be seen here.

An audio recording of the April 22 news conference is available here


Saturday, April 16, 2016

Georgia job market shows strength in first quarter of 2016 – 12-month ranking best among large states

Georgia’s labor market finished the first three months of 2016 in a stronger position than in 2015, and in line with other large states.

Since the beginning of the year, the state has added 29,000 net new nonfarm jobs, compared to an increase of 17,700 new jobs for the first quarter of 2015.

Georgia Nonfarm Employment, Jan. 2015 to March 2016, Seasonally Adjusted
Industries showing strong growth in the first quarter include retail (+6,800), construction (+6,200), and professional and business services (+5,000). Weaker industries included transportation and utilities and information, each of which saw a loss of 400 jobs over the three months. State government added 1,500 jobs in the first quarter, while local governments filled an additional 3,500 positions.

Industry
Net new jobs created in the
first 3 months of 2016 (January – March)
Total nonfarm employment
29,000
   Construction
6,200
   Manufacturing
200
   Wholesale trade
1,600
   Retail trade
6,800
   Transportation and utilities
-400
   Information
-400
   Financial activities
2,000
   Professional and business services
5,000
   Education and health care
1,200
   Leisure and hospitality
3,100
   Federal government
0
   State government
1,500
   Local government
3,500

Compared to other large states (those with labor markets of 4 million or more nonfarm workers), Georgia’s 0.7 percent job growth in the first quarter ranked just below Michigan and North Carolina, each of which recorded growth rates of 0.8 percent according to preliminary data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Over the year, Georgia’s 3.1 percent job growth rate (resulting in 130,000 new jobs), ranked it first among the nation’s 11 largest states, followed by Florida at 2.9 percent and California at 2.6 percent.

Among all 50 states, Idaho marked the highest 12-month job growth rate at 3.6 percent, followed by Oregon and Utah (3.3 percent each). Tennessee and Washington both recorded job growth rates at 3.2 percent. Arizona tied Georgia’s rate a 3.1 percent.

Nationally, the U.S. has added 2.8 million jobs since March 2015 for a growth rate of 2.0 percent.

State Unemployment

Paradoxically, while employment grew, Georgia’s unemployment rate in March was 5.5 percent, the same rate as in December 2015. The unchanging rate reflected a net increase of 4,984 more people counted as unemployed.


To be counted as unemployed under BLS rules, you must not have a job and be actively seeking work. It is possible that the people newly added to the unemployment count may be coming back into the labor force, encouraged by the possibility of new jobs. For that reason, the unchanging rate is not seen as a negative, but could be a positive development for the economy as more people renew hope of getting a job and begin their active job search after a period of inactivity. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Georgia posts very strong October employment numbers

Georgia reported 29,000 new nonfarm jobs in October 2015, its strongest one-month showing since February 2011, according to new seasonally adjusted data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The one-month increase was the fourth largest among all states trailing only California (41,200), Florida (35,200), and Ohio (30,800).

“We saw the state gain 29,000 jobs, which by the way, is much higher than we have been averaging,” according to Georgia State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. “We have been averaging around 16,000 jobs during that same time period.”

The state’s overall strength in October was due to hiring in several sectors including Professional and Business Services (6,400), Retail (5,100), and Government (4,500).
The new employment compares favorably with an increase of 20,500 jobs posted for October 2014, and contrasts with the weak showing earlier in the spring and summer. BLS also revised its data for September, adding 4,400 more jobs to the preliminary report for Georgia, which boosted the state’s September net increase to 13,500.

Georgia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate stood at 5.7 percent in October, a drop of 1.1 percentage points from October 2014. The good news of a declining unemployment rate was tempered by the fact that the drop was partially attributable to a decline of 6,076 people in the labor force compared to the same time last year.

Over the past 12 months, the state’s nonfarm employment has grown by 97,100 jobs, which translated to a 2.3 percent annual increase and outpaced the nation’s 2.0 percent increase. The latest jobs picture fell below the numbers posted in October 2014 when the state’s then 12-month increase of 143,900 jobs translated to a 3.5 percent growth rate.

Over the most recent 12-month period, increases were notable in Professional and Business Services (20,500), Leisure and Hospitality (17,200), Education and Health Services (16,100), and Retail (15,600).

The Atlanta area continues to be the state’s job engine, contributing two-thirds of the state’s net new jobs, adding 19,300 jobs over the month. Since October 2014, the metro area has increased by 87,800 jobs, representing 90 percent of the state’s job growth. This translates to a 12-month increase of 3.5 percent.

In 2014, the strong growth in October was followed by increases at only half that rate in November and December. It remains to be seen if the pattern in 2015 will see a repeat with the most significant hiring occurring earlier in the holiday season (October) followed by smaller boosts to job growth in the last two months of the year.