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

Friday, August 20, 2021

Georgia did not reached its pre-pandemic employment levels in July

 

Georgia released its statewide employment data for July 2021 on August 19. In announcing that the state’s unemployment rate had dropped to 3.7 percent, the Georgia Department of Labor news release headline read: 

Unemployment Rate Drops to Pre-Pandemic Level in July (GDOL News Release)

 While the good news is that the state’s unemployment rate did drop by three-tenths of one percent from June to July, the state has not yet achieved the levels it had gained in March 2020 before pandemic-related cutbacks and closures caused a sharp increase in the state’s unemployment rate and an equally sharp contraction of its employment levels. 

Unemployment rate

In October 2019, the state reported a record low unemployment rate of 3.3 percent, which it maintained through January 2020; but by February, the rate was starting to creep upwards, reaching 3.6 percent in March 2020.   

Layoffs exploded in April 2020, with the state reporting an unemployment rate of 12.5 percent. Since then, there has been a continual reduction in the unemployment rates up to the present.

Unemployment rates are typically published to only one decimal point, but it is possible to carry out the calculation to multiple decimal points and carrying out the calculation to four decimal points, one can see that the March 2020 rate was technically 3.5923 percent. 

This compares to the July 2021 rate of 3.7421, or a difference of 0.1498 percentage points, which falls within the limits of what the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics would call statistically insignificant, so the State of Georgia chose to declare it had reached the pre-pandemic level of March 2020 because the state labor agency could technically defend the statement. 

The Georgia Commissioner of Labor, Mark Butler, could have waited until the August numbers are published to confirm that that the state’s unemployment rate had reached pre-pandemic levels, but that would have been taking the risk that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for August might not continue to show a decline. 

Labor force, employment, and unemployment



While the number of unemployed in Georgia has steadily declined as the number of people employed has increased, neither measure equals the levels achieved in March 2020. 

From March 2020 to July 2021, the number of unemployed has increased by 6,491, while the number of employed individuals has dropped by 41,424. 

As a result, the state’s labor force, which is by definition a combination of employed and unemployed, has actually declined by 34,933, or nearly 0.7 percent. 

This brings the state’s labor force slightly below the level it reached in October 2019, even though the state’s population has continued to increase. 

The situation is also reflected in other data published by BLS for Georgia. Georgia’s labor force participation rate has declined from 62.9 percent in March 2020 to 61.7 percent in July 2021. Labor force participation rate is defined as representing the number of people in the labor force as a percentage of the civilian noninstitutional population. In other words, the participation rate is the percentage of the population that is either working or actively looking for work. 

Georgia’s employment-population ratio has also dropped from 60.7 percent in March 2020 to 59.4 percent in July 2021. The employment-population ratio represents the number of employed people as a percentage of the civilian noninstitutional population. In other words, it is the percentage of the population that is currently working. 

What happened to these people? Statisticians do not know. Some may have chosen to retire, others may have simply dropped out of the labor force. Whether and when they will re-enter the labor force is also unknown. What is known is that there is a group of former workers who so far have not been re-employed as of July 2021, so implying that the state has fully recovered its pre-pandemic levels seem premature at best. 

Nonfarm employment

 

The State of Georgia and BLS also publish a separate monthly survey of nonfarm jobs, and this also confirms that the state has not yet reached its pre-pandemic levels. 

In July 2021, nonfarm jobs in Georgia totaled 4,572,100. While this was a good increase from June (up by 43,600), it still leaves the state 64,900, or 1.4 percent, short of the number obtained in March 2020 and more than 94,000 jobs short of the highest level achieved in February 2020. 

Much of this shortfall can be attributed to the disappearance of jobs in the Atlanta metro area, where July’s jobs total of 2,797,200 is still 67,100 jobs below the level it achieved in March 2020, and 89,500 short of its peak in January 2020. 

Whether the state, and the nation, can continue to grow its employment base remains to be seen, as Covid-related variants raise questions about the ongoing strength of the economy through the end of 2022, but in any case, there is still more work to be done to re-establish all the employment that has been lost from the pre-pandemic time.

 

Note: All data discussed are seasonally adjusted. Seasonal adjustment is a statistical procedure that removes the effects of normal seasonal variations—resulting from events such as holidays, school openings and closings, and weather—from data series. Seasonally adjusted data make it easier to observe cyclical and other economic trends, such as those associated with general economic expansions and contractions. For further information, see Seasonal adjustment of Current Population Survey (CPS) estimates.

Charts are from the bls.gov website.

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Georgia unemployment claims leveling off after benefit cutback effects fade

 When Georgia chose to end its involvement in the additional $300/week unemployment benefits being provided by the Federal government, Governor Kemp stated as its reasoning: 

“We've got to get more people in the work force," Kemp said on America's Newsroom. "We have a record number of jobs in Georgia. Georgia is open for business!” (WTGS

As a result of the state’s decision, effective June 26, 2021, Georgia’s unemployment benefits reverted back to its usual unemployment rules with unemployment benefits ranging from a minimum weekly benefit of $55 and the maximum of $365 based on the amount of wages earned in the base period for a maximum period of 20 weeks (Georgia DOL website). 

With several weeks of information on the state’s unemployment insurance claims now available, we can draw some tentative conclusions about the effect of that decision on the number of people in Georgia requesting unemployment assistance. 

Georgia initial claims 

A review of Initial unemployment claims in Georgia show a pattern of decline over a two-week period from 19,761 reflecting the week ending June 26, down to 12,605 for the week ended July 10. From that point, the number of initial claims has remained steady at approximately 12,000 each week for following two weeks, reflecting the weeks ending July 17 and July 24. 

Between the weeks ending June 26 and July 24, the weeks since the change in unemployment benefits, Georgia has seen a 7,095 decline in initial claims; a drop of 36 percent. 

An initial claim is a claim filed by an unemployed individual after a separation from an employer. The claimant requests a determination of basic eligibility for the UI program. When an initial claim is filed with a state, certain programmatic activities take place and these result in activity counts including the count of initial claims. 

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, the count of U.S. initial claims for unemployment insurance is a leading economic indicator because it is an indication of emerging labor market conditions in the country. 

North Carolina initial claims 

While Georgia declined to continue providing Federally-funded unemployment benefits to its citizens, North Carolina has chosen to maintain the $300/week Federal payment in addition to the state’s $350/week maximum benefit. 

For the same time period, reflecting weeks ending June 26 to July 24, North Carolina saw a slight increase in the number of initial unemployment claims, from 4,879 in the week ending June 26 to 5,118 in the week ending July 31, a nearly 5 percent increase.

 North Carolina’s governor chose to veto a bill that would have ended the enhanced Federal benefit before its expiration date in early September. 

“Unemployment is declining with more people getting vaccinated and into the workforce as North Carolina has strengthened work search requirements for those receiving benefits. The federal help that this bill cuts off will only last a few more weeks and it supplements North Carolina’s state benefits, which are among the stingiest in the country. Prematurely stopping these benefits hurts our state by sending back money that could be injected into our economy with people using it for things like food and rent. I support strong efforts to make more quality childcare available and to provide businesses with funds for hiring bonuses and the bill falls short on both of these,” Gov. Cooper said. (WBTV

Continuing claims 

Both Georgia and North Carolina have seen a steady decrease in continued unemployment claims since early July. Georgia did see a 23 percent jump between the weeks ending June 19 and June 26, but since then continued claims have declined by 51 percent. Since the end of May, continued claims in Georgia have dropped by 40,855 (-31 percent). 

In North Carolina, there was no spike between June 19 and June 26. Since the end of May, continued claims in North Carolina have dropped by 9,648 (-21 percent). 

A person who has already filed an initial claim and who has experienced a week of unemployment then files a continued claim to claim benefits for that week of unemployment. On a weekly basis, continued claims are also referred to as insured unemployment, as continued claims reflect a good approximation of the current number of insured unemployed workers filing for UI benefits. 

The U.S. Labor Department’s Employment and Training Administration argues that a count of U.S. continued weeks claimed is also a good indicator of labor market conditions. While continued claims are not a leading indicator (they roughly coincide with economic cycles at their peaks and lag at cycle troughs), they provide confirming evidence of the direction of the U.S. economy. 

Conclusions 

While a longer pattern of weeks will provide a more complete picture, some preliminary judgments are possible. 

Initial unemployment claims in Georgia, which were already showing weekly declines before the week ending June 26, continued dropping until the week ending July 10. Those drops continued but accelerated after the week ending June 26 for a couple of weeks before leveling off at a point lower than during the 2020 Covid year but higher than in the pre-Covid summers of 2018 and 2019. 

It is impossible to say whether the weekly decline might have occurred even if the $300 payments had continued in Georgia, but the most recent weeks indicate that any incentive brought about by the $300 loss in benefits at the end of June appears to have been outweighed by other factors such as the number of job opportunities available that will utilize workers’ past experiences, employees’ reluctance to return to work in conditions that might expose them to Covid-19 and its variants, inability to find work at suitable pay levels, as well as other issues such as family responsibilities that require at-home attendance of relatives and children. 

Certainly the loss of $300/week weighed on unemployed workers personal budgets, whether it produced a dramatic longer-term rise in the availability of labor remains problematic.

Georgia Initial Claims Data 

Number of initial claims reflecting the week ending: 

5/22/2021    24,622

5/29/2021    22,240

6/05/2021    22,524

6/12/2021    20,698

6/19/2021    20.749

6/26/2021    19,761

7/03/2021    14,475

7/10/2021    12,605

7/17/2021    11,985

7/24/2021    12,666

 Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Georgia unemployment continued claims surge and then drop 40% after state stops federal aid

Continued unemployment claims in Georgia surged in the week before Georgia eliminated the $300 per week federal supplement to state unemployment benefits and then declined by almost 40 percent in the week following the ending of the supplement.

The number of continued unemployment claims rose from 144,750 reflecting the week ending June 19 to 178,850 in the week ending June 26, before declining to 106,266 reflecting the week ending July 3, 2021. 

Continued claims, also referred to as insured unemployment, is the number of people who have already filed an initial claim and who have experienced a week of unemployment and then filed a continued claim to claim benefits for that week of unemployment. 

The number of initial unemployment claims after the ending of the supplement and reflecting the week ending July, 3, dropped 27 percent, from 19,761 in the prior week to 14,475. 

Georgia ended the federal supplement effective June 27 and also ended programs that paid unemployment benefits to people who had not been eligible for benefits and people who had been receiving benefits longer than allowed under state law. 

According to the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget website, “In accordance with Governor Brian Kemp and Commissioner Mark Butler’s plan for reemployment and economic recovery, effective June 27, 2021, Georgia will no longer participate in the federal unemployment programs enacted through the CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan Act.” 

With the change, the maximum weekly benefit payable to eligible unemployed workers in Georgia dropped from $665 to $365. 

Nationally, the $300 weekly supplement is due to end September 6, 2021, and Georgia is one of a number of states that have chosen to end the supplement before the federal expiration date. 


Unemployment remains above 2018 and 2019 levels

While the number of continued unemployment claims in Georgia have fallen by more than 85 percent compared to a year ago, continued claims remain higher than for the same weeks in 2018 and 2019. 

Contrasted with the 108,266 continued claims for the week ending July 3, 2021, for the week ending July 4, 2018, continued claims totaled 32,731, and for the week ending July 6, 2019, continued claims were 30,818. 

For the first week of July in 2018 and 2019, the state’s insured unemployment rate was less than 0.8 percent. For the week ending July 3, 2021, the rate stood at 2.57 percent. A year ago, Georgia’s insured unemployment rate was 17.99 percent. 

The insured unemployment rate (percentage of covered employment) is Continued Claims (also called insured unemployment) divided by Covered Employment. This is different than the more normally cited unemployment rate, which is calculated regardless of whether individuals are receiving unemployment benefits.

State unemployment rules starting June 27, 2021 

The Georgia Department of Labor has announced that in accordance with the plan for reemployment and economic recovery, effective June 27, 2021, Georgia will no longer participate in the federal unemployment insurance (UI) programs enacted through the CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan Act: PUA, PEUC, FPUC and MEUC. This means the last payable week for these programs will be week ending June 26, 2021, even if there is a remaining balance. 

All eligible payments under any of these federal programs after the program ends will continue to be processed and issued to qualified individuals. This applies to individuals whose eligibility is later determined and unemployment benefits are payable for weeks ending on or before June 26, 2021. 

To be eligible for state Unemployment Insurance (UI), individuals must: 

  • Be unemployed through no fault of their own.
  • Be monetarily eligible (have enough wages from past employers to qualify).
  • Be able to work.
  • Be available for work.
  • Actively seek work.
  • Report your weekly work search.
  • Be registered with Employ Georgia.
  • Not refuse suitable work, if offered.

Georgia regulations allow claimants to receive up to 26 weeks of UI benefits. Eligible claimants will receive a weekly benefit amount ranging from $55 to $365 per week, based on their previous earnings.

Work search requirement reinstated Sunday, July 4, 2021

To continue to receive unemployment benefits workers are required to make a good faith effort to find another job as soon as possible. Unemployed workers can only be paid for weeks during which you actively seek work. Unless the Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) specifically exempts an individual from this requirement, job seekers are required to make a minimum of three new reportable job contacts each week. These contacts must be with employers not previously contacted. Employer contacts can include those made in person, by telephone, online or by résumés faxed, mailed, or emailed. 

More information on filing for unemployment benefits in Georgia can be found at Unemployment Benefits | Georgia Department of Labor


Sunday, July 18, 2021

Georgia job recovery continues to show progress

 

Georgia nonfarm employment, seasonally adjusted

Georgia’s labor market showed progress in June and the state’s economy continued to recover, although still falling short of its pre-pandemic levels.

The state’s unemployment rate reached 4.0 percent, a level still 0.4 percentage points higher than its 3.6 percent rate recorded in March 2020. Similarly, the number of unemployed in the state dropped by 5,005 to 208,033, after seasonal adjustment. This compared to 186,995 in March 2020.

Georgia added 32,800 nonfarm jobs in June, after seasonal adjustment, the largest one-month increase since August 2020.

The Atlanta metro area accounted for all of the net increase in jobs, adding 39,000 over the month. The Atlanta area has consistently accounted for 61 percent of the state’s labor market over the past two years.

With the June job figures, Georgia employment sits now at 4,521,000, 116,000 jobs fewer than in March 2020.

At 2,781,600, the Atlanta area job market is still short 82,700 jobs from the level it obtained in March 2020.

2nd Quarter 2021

In the three months (April to June), Georgia 38,100 jobs, after seasonal adjustment, compared to a gain of 33,100 jobs in the first quarter of the year. As a comparison, in the second quarter of 2019, the state added 13,700 jobs, while in the second quarter of 2020, the state lost 340,800 jobs as pandemic-related closures and business drop-offs impacted the state’s economy.

The Atlanta metro area added 44,100 jobs in the second quarter of 2021, compared to 9,300 in the second quarter of 2019, and a loss of 239,200 jobs in the second quarter of 2020.

All information has been seasonally adjusted, provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and is subject to revision.

End of pandemic-related unemployment benefits

The State of Georgia chose to end Federal pandemic unemployment benefits on June 26, 2021. This meant a loss of $300 to individuals receiving weekly unemployment benefits.

The Georgia Department of Labor has reinstated eligibility requirements for both claimants and employers that were waived during the pandemic.

As part of the change, employers will again be charged for unemployment benefits for those temporarily laid off or working few hours during the pandemic. It is anticipated that employers may become more aggressive in contesting former employees who apply for unemployment benefits.

The July unemployment figures will be watched closely to see what effect the decrease in weekly benefits will have on individuals seeking work.


Saturday, July 3, 2021

More economic indicators point to a strong recovery in Georgia’s economy

 


If the drop-off in Georgia’s economy in the first quarter of 2020 was dramatic, then it is equally useful to use that same word “dramatic” to describe the shape of the state’s recovery in early 2021.

New government surveys provide additional light on how strongly Georgia’s economy is rebounding after Covid-19 closures and restrictions throttled Georgia’s economy a year ago.

Business Formations Survey

The first step for an individual wishing to set up a new business is an application for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) that can grant the company or nonprofit enterprise other benefits such as applying for a business license or to hire employees.

The Census Bureau tracks the number of EIN applications as an economic measure of early-stage business activity. Even during the initial pandemic shutdown months in the first quarter of 2020, the number of applications for EINs in Georgia remained high with more than 85,000 applications received between January to May 2020. (Business Formation Statistics (BFS) (census.gov))

For the first five months of 2021, this number almost doubled to more than 163,000 applications indicating a large interest in the formation of new businesses in the state.

Data on business formations by county lag the statewide numbers, but Census has just released data for Georgia counties in 2020.

As expected, the counties with the largest existing employment also tend to have the largest number of new business formations, and since these are in the Atlanta metro area, counties in the Atlanta metro area lead the list. In 2020, Fulton County reported 51,935 applications, up by more than 18,000 from 2019. DeKalb County was second with 31,442 applications (up by almost 13,000) and followed by Gwinnett County with 29,296 (up by almost 8,9000) and Cobb County at 23,941 (up by more than 7,6000). Clayton County came in fifth on the list with 14,733 new applications, up by more than 7,400 over 2019. No other Georgia county showed greater than 10,000 new applications in 2020.

Counties showing fewer applications in 2020 as compared to 2019 included Rabun, Evans, Glascock, Towns, and Colquitt counties.

Because a company that ceases operations may still retain their EIN, there is no information on the number of companies that may have ceased operations.

Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey

Job openings in the state reached 313,000 in March 2021, up from 170,000 for the same month a year ago, while the number of layoffs and discharges fell from 293,000 in March 2020 to 51,000 in March 2021, according to new information released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as part of their experimental Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey states estimates (JOLTS Experimental State Estimates).

While job openings express a level of optimism on behalf of employers, the number of hires represent a real economic cost to employers, and here again, hires in Georgia in March totaled 193,000 compared to 147,000 a year ago. The hires rate for the state came in at 4.3 compared to 3.2 last year.

Equally impressive, the number of voluntary quits increased over the year from 76,000 in March 2020 to 124,000 in March 2021 with the Quits rate jumping from 1.6 to 2.8. Quits are seen as an important indicator as how much confidence workers have in their ability to find a new position. While the quits rate has been higher in the past, the current level still shows optimism from workers about their employment futures, at least sufficiently that they believe they are finding better opportunities by changing jobs.

Current Employment Statistics

For all the positive indicators highlighted above, the good news on Georgia’s economic picture must be tempered by the recognition that the state has not yet completely regained levels reached before the 2020 economic downturn.

In May, Georgia achieved an unemployment rate of 4.1 percent, much better than the 9.4 percent rate in May 2020, buy still above the 3.6 percent rate in May 2019, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In the same manner, while the number of unemployed in the state has been cut in half since last May, it is still some 28,000 higher than in May 2019, while the state’s nonfarm employment is still 125,000 short of its May 2019 level.

Georgia nonfarm employment, Jan. 2019 to May 2021, seasonally adjusted


All this points to the fact that while the state’s economy continues to make a record rebound from the 2020 downturn, the state’s labor force needs continued employment growth to catch up with its pre-Covid job levels.


Saturday, March 6, 2021

Georgia's employed population hits new low in 2020

 

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

The percentage of the population employed in Georgia reached its lowest level in 2020, according to new information provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

On average, only 57.1 percent of Georgians age 16 or older were employed during the year, the lowest number since BLS began its series in 1976. In 2019, the state’s average ratio was 60.5 percent. The ratio has been as high as 66.5 percent, set in 1999. 

In comparison, the national employment-population ratio in 2020 was 56.8. According to BLS, Georgia’s employment-population ratio in 2020 was not statistically different from that of the U.S. 

From 1976 through 2008, the state’s employment-population ratio had always been higher than or equal to the nation as a whole, but the state’s labor force recovery from the 2007 recession was slower than for the nation. In 2015, Georgia recorded an average employment-population ratio two percentage points lower than the nation; 2015 was the last time the state’s ratio significantly diverged from that of the U.S. 

The low employment-population level reflects both the state’s growing population as well as a combination of a larger number of people age 16 and older unemployed and actively seeking work and those outside the labor force. People can be outside the labor force for a number of reasons including due to retirement, full disability, pursuing education, discouraged workers, as well as other reasons. 

In 2020, annual average employment in the state totaled 4,741,191, while the state’s population of persons age 16 and older averaged 8,297,834. 

By comparison, in 1976, the first year in the series, employment in the state over the year averaged 2,084,229, while the state’s population averaged 3,557,750. In 1976, the state's employment-population ratio was 58.6 percent.

The number of unemployed persons in Georgia averaged 330,964 in 2020. People are classified as unemployed if they do not have a job, have actively looked for work in the prior four weeks, and are currently available for work.  

Even though Georgia’s employment-population ratio is the lowest on record, the state’s unemployment rate was not a record. In 2020, Georgia's unemployment rate averaged 6.5 percent. The state's record unemployment rate was set in 2010 when the state averaged 10.7 percent; that year Georgia reached an annual average unemployed people at 502,515.

 

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Happy New Year from GeorgiaLaborReport.com 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, October 15, 2020

Personal income in Georgia rises 28% due to unemployment insurance and economic impact payments


Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis 

Personal income for Georgia’s residents rose sharply in the 2nd quarter of 2020 thanks to large payouts by the state unemployment fund and economic impact payments funded by the federal government. 

Wages declined by $16.8 billion over the three-month period.

Over the quarter, personal income increased by 28.5% at an annual rate in the 2nd quarter of 2020, below the national average, which rose by 34.2%.

Total personal income in Georgia equaled $558.88 billion in the 2nd quarter compared to $524.91 billion in the 1st quarter of the year and $510.46 billion in the 2nd quarter of 2019.  

While nonfarm income rose by $35.8 billion, farm income declined by $1.8 billion over the quarter.

The state’s personal income per capita rose to $52,184.

Changes in personal income components

Overall, personal income in Georgia rose by $33.9 billion in the 2nd quarter.

Net earnings of workers by place of residence dropped by $20.7 billion, and income from dividends, interest, and rent receipts declined by $2.1 billion.

These losses were offset by $56.8 billion increases in transfer receipts. The largest contributors to the rise in transfer receipts were economic impact payments financed by the federal government ($34 billion) and state unemployment insurance benefits ($14.7 billion).

Transfer payments include Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, state unemployment insurance, as well as boosts due to benefits provided by the CARES Act, expansion of eligibility of workers, not previously covered by state unemployment insurance, economic impact payments to individuals, and provider relief funds for nonprofit institutions, such as hospitals and health care providers.

More detailed information is available here.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Georgia’s reported Unemployment Rate decline is misleading

Georgia Labor Force, not seasonally adjusted, January 2019 to August 2020

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics


Georgia reported its August employment figures and highlighted a decline in its unemployment rate from 7.6% in July to 5.6%, after seasonal adjustment. The state headlined the claim that Georgia had achieved the seventh lowest unemployment rate in the nation.

Analyzing the data, a truer picture appears that is less positive than the overly optimistic story put out by the Georgia Department of Labor.

Unemployment rates in Georgia declined in August 2020, not because people found work, but because large numbers of people gave up searching for a job.

Even a cursory analysis would show that after seasonally adjusting the data, Georgia saw employment rise by 21,000 over the month, too few to account for the large decline in its unemployment rate.

Counting workers before seasonal adjustment, the actual number of people with jobs actually declined over the month by more than 12,000, while the number of people working in August 2020 fell by more than 303,000 below the number recorded 12 months ago.

Labor Force Statistics

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics defines the labor force to include all people age 16 and older who are either working or actively seeking work.

Statewide, Georgia’s labor force dropped by more than 128,000 over the month, according to information provided by the Georgia Department of Labor, Workforce Statistics & Economic Research. This decline in the labor force accounted for most of the drop in the unemployment rate.

Georgia’s lower unemployment rate compared to other states can be explained by the higher percentage of people in Georgia who gave up their job search.

Georgia recorded a 2.5% decline in its labor force in August. Nationwide, the number of people leaving the labor force declined by 0.25%.

Compared to August 2019, the state’s labor force declined by more than 203.000, which translates to a 4% drop. The nation’s labor force fell by 1.8% over the past 12 months.

Georgia’s population continues to increase so it is unlikely that those leaving the labor force also left the state. More likely, people became discouraged about their job prospects and decided to stop looking for work.

Georgia’s Metro Areas

All metro areas in the state reported decreases in their labor force compared to July and a year ago.

The Atlanta metro area is the largest job market in the state and recorded the largest decline in its labor force, dropping by more than 87,000 over the month and declining by more than 114,000 since last August.

The Dalton area, with its heavier reliance on manufacturing, recorded the largest percentage drop in August, down 3% over the month.

Brunswick MSA reported the largest over-the-year percentage labor force decline with a drop of more than 13%.

Georgia’s Regional Commissions

The state has set up 12 regional commissions to assist local governments in areas such as workforce devlopment. 

Among the commissions, the Atlanta Regional Commission, which includes the city of Atlanta and surrounding counties, recorded the largest labor force drop with a decline of more than 71,000 from July to August and a drop of more than 81,000 from August a year ago.

The area covered by the ARC accounted for 55% of the decline in the state’s labor force, even though it is home to 47% of the workers included in Georgia’s labor force numbers.

Over the month, the Three Rivers Regional Commission, which includes counties in West Central Georgia, recorded the largest percentage drop, down more than 3%.

Compared to last year, the Central Savannah River Area Regional Commission reported the largest decline, down more than 5.5%. The CSRA covers 13 counties in the eastern part of Central Georgia.

Dangers in using data in a misleading manner

Information, such as unemployment rates, are important economic indicators that help guide local, state, and national policymakers in their decisions affecting the economy.

When the numbers are misread or intentionally misreported, it can skew economic decisions regarding taxes, social programs, and economic development plans.

Decision makers and the public need a clear understanding of the current economic situation and providing misleading interpretations of the information available can result in poor economic decisions that damage the state’s future.


Georgia Labor Force estimates are available here.


Sunday, September 6, 2020

Georgia Labor Day 2020 by the Numbers

Georgia Private Sector Nonfarm Jobs, January 2019 - July 2020

Statewide employment 

Number of private sector nonfarm jobs in Georgia in July 2020: 3,734.000 

Number of private sector nonfarm jobs in Georgia in July 2019: 3,922,300 

Change from a year ago: - 188,300

 

Number of public sector jobs in Georgia in July 2020: 657,700 

Number of public sector jobs in Georgia in July 2019: 664,600 

Change from a year ago: - 6,900 


Statewide unemployment 

Initial claims 

Number of people filing for Georgia unemployment insurance benefits in the week ending August 22, 2020: 56,758 

Number of initial claims for the same week in 2019: 4,440 

Change from a year ago: + 52,318 


Insured unemployment 

Number of people receiving Georgia unemployment benefits in the week ending August 15, 2020: 553,713 

Number of people receiving benefits for the same week in 2019: 25,549 

Change from a year ago: + 528,164

 

Statewide costs for unemployment insurance benefits 

Amount of regular Georgia UI benefits paid in the past 24 weeks: + $3 billion 

Amount paid in the previous 7 years combined: $2.852 billion

 

Georgia metro areas private sector nonfarm jobs

(As of July 2020 / Change from July 2019)

Albany: 48,200 / - 2,400 

Athens-Clarke County: 67,100 / - 1,500 

Atlanta metro area (Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell): 2,381.800 / - 134,800 

Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC: 182,800 / - 13,500 

Brunswick: 30,200 / -6,400 

Columbus, GA-AL: 93,000 / - 5,300 

Dalton: 55,600 / - 3,800 

Gainesville: 79,800 / - 3,000 

Hinesville: 13,400 / + 200 

Macon-Bibb County: 83,600 / -5,100 

Rome: 35,900 / - 300 

Savannah: 152,200 / - 10,300 

Valdosta: 42,900 / - 400 

Warner Robins: 44,600 / - 5,100

 

Inflation in the Atlanta metro area (Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell)

(Percentage change in retail prices for the 12 months ending in June 2020)

All Items: + 0.9% 

Food: + 4.3% 

Housing: + 2.3% 

Electricity: - 14.3%               

New vehicle: + 2.4% 

Used cars and trucks: - 1.9%

 Gasoline: - 25.4%

 

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Georgia job increases in May and June fail to offset losses in April

Nonfarm Employment in Georgia, January-June 2020
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Georgia saw 248,300 fewer jobs in the 2nd quarter of 2020 compared to the 1st quarter of the year. The unemployment rate fell to 7.6% in June, down from its May rate of 9.4%.

Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler was quoted as saying: “June was the first month to show positive numbers in all major indicators since the pandemic started. Although it is nice to see the pendulum move in the right direction, we are not naïve to the fact that we may see another tick up in claims over the next few months. We will continue to work unemployment claims both new and continued to ensure all Georgians are being taken care of during these unprecedented times.”

At the end of the 2nd quarter, employment in Georgia stood at 4,370,300 jobs having given up all the job gains it had made in the past four years.

In June, employment grew by 150,200 jobs, the second consecutive month of job growth after posting a revised net growth of 99,600 jobs in May.

Despite the two months of increases, there was net job loss for the quarter as growth in May and June could not overcome the loss of 498,100 jobs in April.

Over the past 12 months, the state has suffered a net loss of 239,800 jobs, its largest net loss of jobs since 2009.

Unemployment

The state’s unemployment rate remained elevated compared to the state’s 3.5% unemployment rate in June 2019. The percentage of the population employed in June rose to 54.9% up from 53.5% in May. A year ago, the state’s employment-population ratio stood at 60.0%.

In June, the number of unemployed in the state stood at 373,404, also a decrease from the numbers posted in April and May.

Employment by industry

While nearly all industries posted improvements in June compared to their April and May losses, nearly all industries showed job declines over the quarter.

Overall, the private sector posted a net loss of 226,200 jobs in the second quarter with significant quarterly net losses in the leisure and hospitality sector (-88,100), the professional and business services industry (-38,000), and in health care and social assistance (-18,500).

Although nearly every industry posted job gains in June, one exception was state government, which showed a net loss of 500 jobs in June. For the quarter, state government employment declined by 7,200. 

Only federal government employment in the state showed improvements over the quarter, rising by a net of 900 jobs in the 2nd quarter.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Georgia pays out record unemployment claims even as number of initial claims declines


The Georgia Department of Labor paid out a record amount of unemployment insurance benefits in the shortened July 4th week. The payments in the holiday-shortened week were almost 3x the amount issued for all of 2019.

Georgia Unemployment Rate, Seasonally Adjusted


Regular state and federal unemployment insurance benefit payments totaled over $857 million. Since mid-March, total unemployment benefits payments in Georgia have exceeded $8.5 billion.

In the first week of July, $148,071,716 in regular weekly state unemployment benefits were paid. Since March 21, over $2 billion has been paid in regular state unemployment insurance benefits.

The news comes even as Georgia reports a drop in initial claims for unemployment with 13,985 fewer initial claims in the week ending July 4th than in the previous week. For the week, initial claims totaled 103,590.

For the week ending June 20, the state counted a total of 661,233 people on its insured unemployment rolls compared to 24,973 for the same week in June 2019.

Georgia Unemployment Insurance Fund

Although the federal goverment is covering much of the cost of unemployment benefits currently through the month of July, regular state unemployment benefits continue to be paid by the state and are funded through a tax on employers. 

Normally, the rate an employer pays into the fund is based on their experience rating -- the number of workers drawing unemployment from a given employer.

As the state draws down the money in its unemployment insurance fund, it needs to determine if rates need to increase so the fund does not run out of money. Georgia has already decided that Covid-19-related claims will not be counted when calculating experience ratings.

Some states have already asked the federal government for assistance because their drawdowns of their unemployment insurance funds are already running low.

In Georgia’s case, despite the recent spike in claims, the state’s unemployment insurance fund remains solvent. Georgia is estimated to have sufficient funds to be able to pay between 1.0 to 1.5 years of benefits associated with an average recessionary period.

Solvency of State Unemployment Insurnace Funds Ability to Pay Over 12 Months 
Based on An Average Recession, as of January 2020



Looking ahead to 2021

Although Georgia’s unemployment fund is currently in good shape, it will need to be replenished. 

After the last recession, Georgia reduced the number of weeks for unemployment benefits from 26 to 14 weeks to reduce the need to increase taxes on employers.

Assuming that the state’s economy will not quickly recover from the current economic downturn, in 2021, the state will have to consider another reduction in benefits coverage, higher taxes on employers, lower weekly payout rates, or a combination of these options.

In addition to needing to rebuild the fund, there will be pressure to modernize the system, as workers complained that the current system left them without benefits for multiple weeks due to breakdowns in the processing system. The state will need to determine whether its computer infrastructure needs t be modernized or replaced and if so, how to pay for the changes.

Not only is the current downturn stressing employers and employees, it is also putting pressure on state politicians next year to find ways to rebuild the state’s unemployment insurance system so it can better serve employers and workers in the future.


Thursday, June 4, 2020

Georgia metro areas record double-digit job losses for April, Brunswick loses 24% of private sector employment



Atlanta Private Sector Employment, 2015-April 2020
Brunswick Private Sector Employment, 2015-April 2020



The impact of employment losses due to the coronavirus-related shutdowns reverberated throughout Georgia in April.

Employment

Statewide, more than 457,000 private sector jobs disappeared over the month plus another 18,500 jobs in government. Despite these losses, the state fared better than the nation.

Georgia recorded a net job loss of 10.3% in April with a private sector job loss of 11.7%. Both these percentages were better than for the nation as a whole, which reported net job losses of 13% and private sector job losses of 14.6%.

For the Atlanta metro area, which represents more than 60% of the state’s labor market, job losses in the private sector totaled 11.3%.

Smaller metro areas in the state recorded even larger percentage losses over the month.

The comparatively small Brunswick area saw 24% of its private sector jobs disappear in one month.

Savannah and Warner Robins saw more than 15% of their private sector jobs vanish in April, while Columbus, Ga., recorded private sector job losses of more than 12%.

The Rome area escaped relatively easily over the month with a job loss of 5%.

Albany, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus with Dougherty County reporting a case rate of nearly 2,000 per 100,000 population, actually only suffered job losses in line with the state average.

The losses were divided between goods producing industries and service-providing industries with goods producers shedding 10.1% of their jobs, while service-providing private companies lost 11.7% of their March employment.

Unemployment rates

Consistent with the job losses in April, unemployment rates in the state moved up sharply. Statewide, Georgia recorded an unemployment rate of 12.2%, before seasonal adjustment, although that remained below the nation’s rate of 14.4%.

Among metro areas, Dalton recorded the state’s highest unemployment rate at 20.5%. Both Savannah and Brunswick reported unemployment rates in excess of 15%.

Valdosta showed the lowest unemployment rate among the state’s metro areas at 9.9%.

Looking ahead

Georgia has been one of the first states to re-open its economy. Increases in employment due to the re-opening of businesses may be partially offset by losses in business as some individuals remain reluctant to possible exposing themselves to the virus by shopping, dining, etc.

That combination of factors makes it difficult to predict employment figures for May, although they will be closely watched by others in the nation to see how the state’s economy rebounds from its April losses.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Here is how long it took Georgia labor market to recover from previous recessions




  • 2001 Recession. Georgia pre-recession unemployment rate 3.6%, February 2001. Next reached in April 2019

  • 2007-2009 Recession. Georgia pre-recession unemployment rate 4.9%. Next reached in April 2017


Although the current national economic downturn began differently than past recent recessions, if history is any judge, then Georgia will have a long road back to recover the jobs that were most probably lost in April.

The April unemployment report painted a grim picture of the U.S. economy. The nation lost 20,.5 million jobs in April and the unemployment rate rose to 14.7%.

April unemployment data for Georgia will not be available until later in May, but historically Georgia has trended better than the nation when the economy is improving and trended worse than the nation when the economy worsened.




Recession of 2001

Before the 2001 recession, Georgia recorded an unemployment rate of 3.6%, better than the national unemployment rate of 4.2%.

After the recession, Georgia’s unemployment rate topped out at 6.3% in June 2003, and had not moved down to its previous rate when the next recession began in December 2007.

Recession of 2007-2009

At the start of the recession, Georgia recorded an unemployment rate of 4.9%, worse than the national rate of 4.7%.

The U.S. did not see a rate as low as 4.7% until November 2016, and Georgia did not reach its 4.9% rate until April 2017.

In fact, Georgia did not recover its 2001 pre-recession unemployment rate until April 2019, so if history is followed this time, the road to recovery in the state may be a very long one.

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.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Atlanta area accounts for all of Georgia’s net job growth in the 4th quarter of 2019

Georgia job growth, 2006-2019

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

As job growth in Georgia continues to slow, all of the state’s job growth was concentrated in the Atlanta metro area, while the rest of the state actually recorded a net job loss in the final quarter of 2019.

Preliminary data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that Georgia added 17,700 new jobs in the 4th quarter of 2019 with the Atlanta metro area growing by 22,600 jobs while the rest of the state lost 4,900 jobs between October and December.

For the year, Georgia added 66,700 job. In contrast, the state added 92,500 jobs in 2018 and 69,400 jobs in 2017.

The state recorded a growth rate of 1.5%, its slowest calendar year rate of increase since 2011.
The state did set a series low unemployment rate of 3.2% in 2019 as the number of unemployed workers in the state dropped by 14,742 in the 4th quarter.

Over the year, the number of unemployed dropped by 29,176 while the state’s labor force grew by 17,653. The combination of slower growth in the state’s labor force with fewer people seeking work contributed to the decline in the unemployment rate.

Georgia labor force, 2014-2019

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Atlanta was key to job growth


Atlanta metro area job growth, 2006-2019

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics


The metro Atlanta region added 65,700 jobs in 2019, an increase of 2.3%, its best calendar year increase since 2016.

Excluding the Atlanta metro area, the rest of the state added only 1,000 jobs over the past 12 months.
The small net increase for all counties excluding the Atlanta metropolitan statistical area was the worst showing since 2011.

Other metro areas in Georgia


While many of the metro areas showed some employment gains in 2019, the number of jobs added were below those added in 2018.

Albany recorded a 500 job decline in the 4th quarter of 2019 and a loss of 100 jobs for calendar year 2019.

Athens posted a 1,100 job gain for the quarter and a 1,400 net job gain for the calendar year.

Augusta recorded a 100 job gain for the quarter and added 2,800 jobs for the year.

Brunswick showed zero net job growth over the quarter and a 700 job gain for the year.

Columbus lost 600 jobs over the quarter and was down by 1,400 jobs for the year.

Dalton added 200 jobs over the quarter with a net gain of 300 jobs over the year.

Gainesville showed an increased of 700 jobs for the quarter with a net addition of 3,500 jobs for the year.

Hinesville lost 100 jobs in the quarter but posted a 400 job gain for the year.

Macon added 100 jobs in the quarter with the result of a 700 job gain over the year.

Rome gained 300 jobs over the quarter and posted a 1,100 job gain for the year.

Savannah added 1,400 jobs in the quarter and ended the year with a net gain of 2,100 jobs.

Valdosta gained 300 jobs over the quarter and ended the year with a net gain of 700 jobs.

Warner Robins added 100 jobs in the quarter and gained 1,300 jobs over the year.

Statewide jobs numbers and unemployment are a combination of metropolitan and rural parts of Georgia and includes information for 159 counties. Net gains for the metropolitan areas in the state cannot be measured by simply totaling the changes for each area. Some metropolitan statistical areas stretch over two states, so some metro job numbers include jobs gained or lost outside of Georgia. For example, the Columbus area includes parts of Alabama.

When BLS compiles the state data for Georgia, the agency excludes counties located in other states in their statewide data but includes them when measuring metro area job numbers and unemployment rates. As it happens, the Atlanta metro area includes only counties in Georgia, so by subtracting the Atlanta metro numbers from the statewide figures, it is possible to compare the Atlanta metro region to the rest of the state.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Georgia’s unemployment rate remains low in December, but does it matter?


Georgia’s unemployment rate was essentially unchanged in December at 3.6 percent compared to a 3.5 percent rate in November after revisions and seasonal adjustment. Speaking statistically, the 0.1 percentage point change is within the error parameters, so there was no statistical movement in the rate between November and December.

Historically, economists in the United States put a great deal of emphasis on the unemployment rate, as they saw it as a meaningful measure of the overall strength of the economy. To simplify the idea, a low unemployment rate meant a high percentage of people were employed and therefore earning income that they could use to boost the overall economy through their purchases.

Alternatively, a high or rising unemployment rate meant that fewer people were earning income and so the outlook for the economy would dim with the idea that fewer people working would buy fewer goods and services. Since about 70 percent of the U.S. economy is driven by consumer purchases, this relationship seemed to make sense.

Problems with using the unemployment rate as a measure

Over time, though, the useful correlation between the unemployment rate and economic progess is showing a breakdown.

You need look no further than the estimated 800,000 Federal employees affected by the partial government shutdown to see the problem. Those employees who are furloughed are defined as unemployed, but nearly half of the workers are being treated as “excepted” employees, which means they are working and counted as employed but not receiving pay.

Working but unpaid employees is only part of the problem with reading too much into an unemployment number.

Overall, the number of people who are no longer in the workforce continues to grow even after the recession ended. Partially this is because of an aging population with more people of retirement age. Retirees living off their Social Security, pensions, and savings have income that does not vary with their employment status. As this group enlarges, the relationship between employment and income declines.

For the 10 years ending in December 2018, nonfarm employment in the U.S. has risen by 11.4 percent, while the number of people not in the labor force has grown by 19.4 percent.

For all of these reasons, the unemployment rate no longer offers the value that it carried in the past as a barometer of the overall economy.

Using wages and income as a better economic measure

Economists must become more focused on wages and income rather than employment to judge the future direction of the economy. After all, it is income that drives household consumption not merely having a job.

By that measure, Georgia’s workers have struggled to keep up with the national average. In 2008, the average wage in Georgia was $786 per week, 7 percent below the national average. After 10 years, a Georgia worker’s average weekly wage has risen to $979 per week, but had risen at a slower pace than the nation, resulting in the gap growing to nearly 8 percent.

Using information from DeptofNumbers.com, you can see that “the current median household income for Georgia is $56,183. Real median household income peaked in 2007 at $58,234 and is now $2,051 (3.52%) lower. From a post peak low of $50,253 in 2011, real median household income for Georgia has now grown by $5,930 (11.80%)."

Real Median Household Income: GeorgiaNational


Compare this graph to the one at the beginning of this article showing unemployment rates for Georgia, and you can see that the income data provides a more valid picture of the state’s current economy.

To truly judge a state’s economic progress, ignore its unemployment rate and focus on data that provides a better description of its economic progress.