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

Monday, April 12, 2021

Georgia's jobs market – suburban Atlanta counties win the prize

 Forsyth County, Ga., change in jobs, 2001-2019

Echols County, Ga., change in jobs, 2001-2019

Source for both graphs: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

20-year trends in Georgia's job market

Important as month-to-month changes are to the employment picture, sometimes it helps to take a longer view. We now have definitive information on how employment in Georgia has shifted from 2000 to 2020. Those data demonstrate longer-term trends that may well affect every aspect of the Georgia’s future.

In June 2000, jobs in Georgia totaled 3.9 million. Twenty years later, in June 2020, that number had jumped to almost 4.2 million jobs resulting in a job growth rate of 7 percent over two decades, an increase 2.5x greater than the nation.

Using information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) for each June between 2000 and 2020, a picture builds on how Georgia’s labor market has evolved. June is a good reference month because it represents both the middle of the year and the end of the state’s fiscal year.

Rather than a smooth upward climb during those 19 years, the state’s job market has experienced both highs and lows. From 2000 to 2010, Georgia actually lost nearly 145,000 jobs as recessions in 2001 and from 2007 to 2009 (the Great Recession) struck harder in Georgia than the nation as the state saw its percentage of job loss reach twice the national average.

The following decade, 2010-2020, saw a massive recovery in jobs as the state added 275,000 jobs (11.2 percent) even including the first six months of 2020, which saw the Covid-19 related recession.

Within that overall picture of declines followed by increases, is a series of dramatic changes within the state.

Dominance of Atlanta suburban counties

The story of Georgia’s jobs growth has been the dominance of the growth of jobs outward from the Atlanta core into the counties surrounding that core.

Fulton County includes much of the City of Atlanta and boasts a job base twice the size of any other county in the state. Despite this impressive statistic and the fact that the Atlanta metro area has been the job engine for the rest of the state, suburban Gwinnett County nearly tied Fulton County with each county seeing the creation of more than 53,000 new jobs since June 2000.

While Fulton County recorded a job rate on pace with the state’s overall percentage gain, Gwinnett County grew more than twice that rate, and Gwinnett was not even the fastest growing county in the metro area. That record belongs to Forsyth County, whose jobs base grew by 117 percent over the past 20 years, followed by Henry County, up 99 percent, and Cherokee County, up by 89 percent.

In another measure of the changes taking place within the Atlanta metro area, in June 2000, Fulton County contained more jobs (754,000) than the five Atlanta suburban counties combined (Gwinnett, Forsyth, Cobb, Henry, and Cherokee). In June 2020, those same five counties contained more jobs (877,000) than Fulton County alone (807,000).

Population growth leads to job growth

One of the stories in the past two decades has been the growth in population in the outer ring counties surrounding Atlanta. The story continues to be one of population growth leading to job growth as jobs follow population increases in the Atlanta metro area county by county outward from the City of Atlanta core.

Between 2010 and 2019, Georgia’s population grew by 9 percent, faster than the U.S. average of 6 percent. Fulton County increased its population by an impressive 15 percent, but Gwinnett County even exceeded that rate, with a population increase of 16 percent, and counties such as Cherokee and Forsyth exceeded even that growth rate, albeit starting from a smaller base.

A continuing story for the coming decade is the job growth in counties located even farther from the Atlanta core, such as development of Jackson County, located to the northeast of Atlanta along the I-85 transportation corridor. The county recorded a 74 percent growth rate over the 20 years, adding 16,000 jobs. That this job growth is continuing is evidenced by the new EV battery plant being built in the county to meet the needs of auto manufacturers in the Southeast.

With lots of relatively inexpensive land available for development, the county, along with neighboring Barrow County, are well positioned to take job growth away from higher cost but still fast-growing Gwinnett County, just as Gwinnett County has grown by seeing jobs shift out of Fulton and DeKalb counties.

Whether work-from-home practices developed in response to Covid-related social distancing, as well as technological changes that allow remote working will result in more movement out from the core will be a story to watch.

Not all Atlanta counties are benefiting from the changes

Even as the Atlanta metro area led the state in job creation, some of the job growth in the fast-growing counties came at the expense of two other Atlanta area counties – Clayton and DeKalb – both of which saw declines in their job numbers.

DeKalb County lost a net of more than 32,000 jobs over the past two decades, as severe losses between 2000 and 2010 were followed by a weak recovery the following 10 years.

Clayton County suffered net losses in both periods resulting in a decline of nearly 20,000 jobs between 2000 and 2020. Clayton County’s employment has traditionally been tied to the transportation industry, as Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is located in Clayton County and many of the county’s residents have travel-related jobs, such as those working at Delta Air Lines. The Great Recession in 2007-2009 followed by the impact of Covid-19 restrictions in 2020 greatly impacted Clayton County and it remains to be seen if employment will rebound as these restrictions are relaxed, or whether the jobs lost may not return.

Loss of employment in small rural counties

While one story is the fast-growing Atlanta area with two counties (Clayton and DeKalb) not participating in the area’s expansion, the second story is that ongoing job losses in many of the state’s rural counties.

Georgia is unusual in having 159 counties, many of which are relatively small geographically, so county employment is easier to watch than in states where larger counties can mask areas of decline.

In Georgia, 14 counties saw job declines of 50 percent or more between June 2000 and June 2020. Many of these counties have been seeing declines in employment opportunities even before 2001. As their job markets grew smaller, the lack of opportunities forces a downward spiral in jobs. Counties with already small job markets see their share of the state’s job growth become even smaller.

Echols County, in southeast Georgia, is an example. The mostly agricultural area recorded a net loss of more than 900 jobs between 2000 and 2020. As of June 2020, the county had no incorporated municipalities and reported a total of only 535 jobs, of which 346 were in private industry and the remainder in government. Not surprisingly, the county’s population has also declined, dropping by 7 percent between 2010 and 2019. Population will most likely continue to decline, probably at a slower rate than job losses, as some job seekers either commute out of the county to work each day, or move to where job markets are growing, while people not in the labor force choose to stay due to connections in the county.

Other counties with severe job losses included Murray County, down 73 percent (-5,900 jobs), Jenkins County, down 109 percent (-1,600 jobs), and Marion County, down 127 percent (-1,500 jobs).

In total, 88 of Georgia’s 159 counties have recorded a net decline in jobs of one percent or more since 2001. As of June 2020, these 88 counties reported a combined employment declines of more than 175,000 jobs.

As of June 2020, Fulton County was home to the largest number of jobs of any county in the state, with employment totaling a little more than 800,000. The was equal to the employment totals of 129 of Georgia’s smallest counties.

Where does Georgia go from here?

The Georgia state legislature will be redrawing its Congressional and state legislative districts based on data from the 2020 Census. While Census data is based on population, not jobs, the direction of job growth and decline, provides good evidence on how the state’s economy is adjusting.

Jobs continue to be concentrated in metro areas, and particularly in the Atlanta metro area, although these are increasingly being created on the outer ring of the core urban area. Workers in small rural counties find fewer opportunities as jobs disappear, although as evidenced by Clayton and DeKalb county declines, even being located in a geographical region with lots of jobs prospects does not insure that your county will benefit from the overall trend.

Fewer jobs lead to fewer job prospects, leads to movement of job seekers out of the area, which in turn creates a declining economy as employees are also consumers who take their purchasing power with them.

The tension between metro Atlanta and the rest of the state has traditionally been between the City of Atlanta and rural Georgia, but increasingly, suburban counties, and especially the outer ring counties around Atlanta, will hold the balance of economic and political power in the state unless the trends of the last 20 years shift significantly in the next decade.

The new battleground is not between rural and urban Georgia, but a fight by the fast growing outer ring counties around Atlanta to obtain both the respect, which they believe is currently lacking, and the political power to shift rules and laws in their favor.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Happy New Year from Here is the most recent information available at the end of 2020

 I want to wish all my readers a very happy new year. Thank you for your interest in this blog, and for your support of this blog, which attempts to provide an economic snapshot of the State of Georgia and its labor markets.

12-months net change in Georgia nonfarm employment, 2019-2020

2020 was a most interesting year in Georgia’s economy, and many of the effects of this past year won’t be fully realized for some time. To leave you with some sense of how Georgians coped with turmoil of 2020, here is a summary of some of the most recent information provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) for Georgia.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for Georgia in current dollars

  • 3rd Quarter 2019 = $629,465.7 million / 3rd Quarter 2020 = $627,666.8 million (-$1,798.9 million)

 Consumer Price Index – All Urban Consumers – Atlanta, GA MSA

  • All Items 12 months increase: October 2019 = 3.0% / October 2020 = 1.2%
  • All Items less food and energy 12 months increase: October 2019 = 3.5% / October 2020 = 1.7%

 Local Area Unemployment Statistics for Georgia

  • Number unemployed: November 2019 = 141,518 / November 2020 = 276,684  (increase: 135,166)
  • Unemployment rate: November 2019 = 2.8% / November 2020 = 5.4%
  • Employment-population ratio: November 2019 = 60.6% / November 2020 = 58.6%

 Georgia Unemployment Claims

  • Initial claims as of December 19 = 26,673 / Year-ago = 4,885 (increase: 21,788)
  • Insured Unemployment as of December 12 = 164,960 / Year-ago = 25,133  (increase: 139,827)

 Nonfarm Employment for Georgia and Metro Areas in the State

  • Statewide Georgia: November 2019 = 4,674,700 / November 2020 = 4,561,700  (-113,000 / -2.4%)
  • Albany, GA: November 2019 = 63,600 / November 2020 = 60,400  (-3,200 / -5.0%)
  • Athens, GA: November 2019 = 98,300 / November 2020 = 95,100  (-3,200 / -3.3%)
  • Atlanta, GA: November 2019 = 2,894,200 / November 2020 = 2,808,700  (-85,500 / -3.0%)
  • Augusta, GA: November 2019 = 244,200 / November 2020 = 232,000  (-12,200 / 5.0%)
  • Brunswick, GA: November 2019 = 44,900 / November 2020 = 39,200  (-5,700 / -12.7%)
  • Columbus, GA: November 2019 = 123,200 / November 2020 = 116,500  (-6,700 / -5.4%)
  • Dalton, GA: November 2019 = 66,100 / November 2020 = 63,800  (-2,300 /- 3.5%)
  • Gainesville, GA: November 2019 = 94,900 / November 2020 = 92,400  (-2,500 / -2.6%)
  • Hinesville, GA: November 2019 = 21,700 / November 2020 = 22,000  (300 / 1.4%)
  • Macon, GA: November 2019 = 103,900 / November 2020 = 101,400  (-2,500 / -2.4%)
  • Rome, GA: November 2019 = 42,700 / November 2020 = 42,600  (-100 / -0.2%)
  • Savannah, GA: November 2019 = 187,800 / November 2020 = 182,900  (-4,900 / -2.6%)
  • Valdosta, GA: November 2019 = 57,100 / November 2020 = 58,800  (1,700 / 3.0%)
  • Warner Robins, GA: November 2019 = 78,000 / November 2020 = 74,500  (-3,500 / -4.5%)


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.”

Monday, July 20, 2020

Job openings and separations in Georgia, 1st Quarter 2020

Compared to the nation, at the end of March, Georgia recorded a higher level of job openings, hires, and quits while posting a lower rate of total separations.

Experimental state-level data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic impact started later in the state than in the nation as a whole.

Job Openings

In the 1st quarter of 2020, Georgia recorded 656,000 employment openings compared to 680,000 in the 1st quarter of 2019.  Job openings for the first two months of 2020 were comparable to those in the first two months of 2019 but then dropped by 27,000 in March of 2020 compared to March 2019.

The state’s openings rate stood at 4.3% at the end of the 1st quarter compared to a 4.9% rate in the 1st quarter of 2019.

At the end of March, the national job openings rate stood at 3.7%.


The number of hires increased by 15,000 in the 1st quarter compared to the 1st quarter of the previous year. Hiring remained steady throughout all three months of 2020.

The hiring rate at the end of March stood at 3.7%, the same as at the end of March 2019.

Nationally, the hire rate ended the quarter at 3.1%.


Total separations include quits, layoffs and discharges, and other separations. Total separations is
referred to as turnover. Quits are generally voluntary separations initiated by the employee. 

Therefore, the quits rate can serve as a measure of workers’ willingness or ability to leave jobs. Layoffs and discharges are involuntary separations initiated by the employer.

Separations totaled 638,000 in the 1st quarter with separations rising each month in 2020 compared to the same three months in 2019. Separations in the 1st quarter of 2019 equaled 516,000.

At the end of March, the total separations rate was 5.4% compared to 3.7% in March 2019. For the nation, the total separations rate at the end of the 1st quarter was 9.3% compared to a 3.3% rate in March 2019.

Both the number of quits as well as layoffs and discharges in Georgia rose each of the first three months of 2020 compared to the first three months of 2019.

For the 1st quarter of 2020, the number of quits equaled 349,000, while the number of layoffs and discharges came to 258,000.

For the 1st quarter of the previous year, the number of quits totaled 315,000 while the number of layoffs and discharges reached 157,000.

At the end March 2020, the quits rate was 2.4%, the same as in March 2019, while the layoffs and discharges rate rose to 2.8% compared to 1.1% in March 2019.

For the nation, the quits rate stood at 1.6% and the layoffs and discharge rate was 7.4% at the end of March.

About state-level JOLTS data

Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) estimates are based on a national sample of approximately 16,000 establishments. These data are used by policymakers, academics, industry experts, economists, and others to better understand the current state of the U.S. economy and to understand the dynamic activity of businesses in the economy that lead to aggregate employment changes.

While the current national sample size is designed to support estimates for major industries at the national level and total nonfarm estimates at the regional level, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is currently researching the possibility of leveraging the sample to produce model-assisted estimates at the state total nonfarm level. These estimates are currently identified as experimental as updates to the models are incorporated into this new data series.

BLS is encouraging data users to review these estimates and provide input on both the technical aspects of the models and on the usability of the resulting data.

More information can be found at

Table A. Job openings, hires, quits, layoffs and discharges, and total separations rates for United States and Georgia, as of March 2020

Rates in Percent
Job Openings Rate
Hires Rate
Quits Rate
Layoffs & Discharges Rate
Total Separations Rate
United States

Friday, February 7, 2020

Georgia 2019 job growth would have been a disaster without Atlanta

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jobs by Industry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Urban areas outside Atlanta

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Georgia’s unemployment rate is good but it has been better in the past

Georgia’s unemployment rate dropped down to 4.1% in June (seasonally adjusted), a decrease of 0.1 percentage point over the month and a drop of 0.6 percentage points since June 2017.

Nonfarm employment in the state rose by 14,200 in June and has increased by 77,300 jobs since June 2017.

In the press release announcing the June 2018 preliminary data, Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler is quoted:

“Georgia’s labor force and job market are as big as they have ever been, and they continue to grow.”  

The statement implies but left unsaid that the state’s current job market is the best it has ever been, which is misleading.

While the unemployment rate is technically true and even though these are good numbers, it should be noted that the current unemployment rate is not unprecedented.

Georgia’s labor force has grown as its population increased over the past two decades, so a larger labor force in a good economy is to be expected but the June 2018 unemployment rate of 4.1% is higher than the numbers reported by the state prior and during part of the 2001 recession.

Georgia consistently posted unemployment rates below 4% between May 1999 and July 2001, according to data obtained from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Here is a comparison of the June 2001 and June 2018 (Data are seasonally adjusted.).

June 2001
June 2018
National unemployment rate

Georgia unemployment rate
Georgia unemployed
Georgia employed
Georgia labor force
Georgia nonfarm Employment

The state’s labor force has expanded by over 900,000 people, so that even with the current low unemployment rate, more people are unemployed now than 17 years ago.

For the state’s unemployment rate to match the June 2001 figure, an additional 16,700 people would have to be employed in June 2018 meaning that June’s increase in nonfarm employment grew at only half the pace needed to match the June 2001 figures.

Also, in the press release announcing the June 2018 preliminary data, it stated that

“Construction in particular is continuing to have a very strong year, seeing growth of 8.8 percent over the year. This is the largest year-over-year percent gain since August 1999.”

Again, technically the Georgia Department of Labor is correct, but that still puts construction employment below the level it achieved back in June 2001.

In June 2001, construction employment in Georgia stood at 208,600, 9.000 more jobs than in June 2018.

The bad news is that by June 2001, unemployment rates were already rising in Georgia, and the state has yet to see a return to the levels reached at the beginning of the century.

The good news is that Georgia’s employment situation may have further gains before the next recession begins.

Several more good months of a strong national economy, and Georgia may once again see a steady stream of monthly unemployment rates in the 3 percent range.

When Georgia’s unemployment rate falls below the levels recorded back in 1999-2000, and when real wages in the state appreciably rise, then the state agency can brag that “Georgia labor market sets records”.

Here is the full news release issued by the Georgia Department of Labor.

Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said Thursday that Georgia once again set records for employed residents, labor force and jobs for June, continuing a trend from recent months.  
The state is approaching the 5-million mark for employed residents. At the same time, Georgia posted more than 4.5 million jobs and a labor force of almost 5.2 million.
Meanwhile, the jobless rate dropped to a level not seen since 2001 even as the national rate ticked up .2 percent.
“While the nation’s jobs and unemployment numbers are beginning to level off, Georgia continues to improve across just about every metric,” said Butler. “Georgia remains one of the premier states in which to live and work.”

In June, Georgia hit a record high 4.94 million employed residents. That number was up by 15,345 over the month and by more than 123,452 since last June.
Likewise, Georgia’s labor force continued to climb, increasing by 10,401 in June to a record high of about 5.1 million. It has grown by 97,510 over the last 12 months.
Georgia’s June unemployment rate came in at 4.1 percent, down .1 percent over the last month. The state rate was 4.7 percent a year ago. The national unemployment rate is slightly better at 4 percent, though the gap has narrowed over the last year.
Jobs were also up by 14,200 in June to over 4.5 million, an all-time high. Over the past 12 months, Georgia added 77,300 jobs.
Butler said all of these numbers continue trends going back many months.
“Georgia’s labor force and job market are as big as they have ever been, and they continue to grow,” said Butler. 
Most of those job gains came in the professional business services; other services; and the trade, transportation, and utilities industry.
Over the past year, Georgia has added more than 10,000 jobs in each of the following sectors: trade, transportation and utilities; education and health services; construction; and leisure and hospitality. Construction in particular is continuing to have a very strong year, seeing growth of 8.8 percent over the year. This is the largest year-over-year percent gain since August 1999.
“When you see that big of a jump in construction jobs over the year, that points to a strong economy,” said Butler.
The number of unemployment claims filed in June was down about 2 percent and remain down by nearly 15 percent over the last year.  
There were 57,752 jobs posted on during June. Of those jobs, 36 percent were for STEM occupations. 




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.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Average State Unemployment Rate Declines

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

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

Private Sector Wages Show Growth

As employment recovers, wages in Georgia are recovering also.

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

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

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

Thursday, 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

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

State program to help Georgians with their mortgages

The Georgia Department of Community Affairs has launched a new program to help the approximately 150,000 Georgians whose mortgages are greater than the value of their homes.

The Underwater Georgia program is targeted to relieve this pressure by using federal funds to make a one-time payment to reduce the principal balance on their home.

Georgia’s housing market was hit hard by the Great Recession, and some Georgia homeowners still find that their houses are worth less today than before the recession.

Many workers find while job opportunities are increasing, they are unable to move to jobs in new areas because their outstanding mortgage is higher than the selling price of their house. This is causing inefficiencies in the labor market as workers are reluctant to take jobs that will cause them to move and lose money when they sell their residence, which is the principal source of savings for most families.

By reducing homeowners’ mortgage principal, the program hopes to reduce stress in families, improve the housing market, and allow workers to pursue job opportunities even if it requires a move to a new area.

Application process

For three weeks, from September 28-October 18, 2016, Georgia residents will be able to visit to fill out a pre-application for these funds. 

All applications will be assigned a number, which will be sent to a third party for a blind random selection process.  Next, the randomly selected applications will be reviewed, in the order selected, for eligibility and those deemed eligible will continue through the process. 

To be eligible, a homeowner must:

•                    Owe more than home is currently worth. 
•                    Owe no more than $250,000.
•                    Purchased home before 2012.
•                    Less than 90 days late on mortgage.
•                    Mortgage lender is willing to participate.
•                    Have not previously received HomeSafe Georgia assistance.

It is expected that the program will receive more applications than available funding, so it is unlikely that all eligible applicants will receive assistance. Based on current funding, an estimated 2,700-3,000 eligible Georgia homeowners will receive assistance.

How the Program works

According to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, for successful applicants, a one-time payment will be made to your lender/servicer on your behalf. The funds will be used to reduce your principal balance, usually on the first mortgage. The funds will be provided as an interest-free loan. A subordinate lien will be placed on the home, for which the balance will be forgiven at 20% each year.

After 5 years, the lien will be cancelled.

If you sell your home before the lien is cancelled and you have equity in the home, you will have to repay the portion of the loan that is outstanding. If you sell your home before the lien is cancelled and there is no equity in the home, repayment will not be required. HomeSafe Georgia will subordinate to a “no cash out” refinance.

Determining Eligibility

To see if you are eligible to participate in this program, you may take DCA’s Eligibility Quiz here.

Customer Service representatives will be available 24 hours a day to take calls during the pre-application submission period.

Toll Free: 1-877-519-4443
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TDD/TYY Line: toll free 1-877-204-1194