Showing posts with label jackson county. Show all posts
Showing posts with label jackson county. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Georgia has weathered the Covid employment loss but not all counties had recovered as of mid-2022

The continuing good news is how Georgia’s employment recovered from Covid-related layoffs and firings, but that overall number ignores how employment changes at the county level has been uneven.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has now released job numbers through June 2022, and even as the state added 136,572 jobs between February 2020 and June 2022, 61 counties out of 159 remained below their pre-Covid employment levels. This comes even as Georgia has outpaced the nation in job creation during that period with the state employment rising by 3%, more than twice the 1.4% recorded nationwide.

Counties losing employment

Of the 61 counties, 17 counties were already losing jobs prior to February 2020, so it is more difficult to say how the Covid-related layoffs affected these counties. One county, Burke, is an outlier in that the massive expansion of the Plant Vogtle nuclear facility has distorted the county’s underlying jobs numbers by pushing them up during the height of construction and then seeing them recede as construction comes closer to a conclusion.

For the remaining 43 counties, the employment losses, while not large when measured statewide, can be significant to local economies.

A county-by-county employment count shows that while many of these counties are in rural parts of the state, some counties struggling with continued job losses include Cherokee, Cobb and Clayton counties in the Atlanta metro area, Clarke County (Athens metro area), Richmond County (Augusta metro area), Muscogee County (Columbus metro area), and Bibb County (Macon metro area).

As a percentage of total county employment, the largest losses have occurred in:

Randolph County -289 (-14.7%)

Montgomery County -223 (-14.0%)

Dooly County -447 (-12.6%)

Taliaferro County -21 (-9.7%)

Jones County -354 (-8.3%)

Sumter County -742 (-6.8%)

For the counties in metro areas of the state, the losses remain significant. Clarke County is showing 4,762 fewer jobs (-6.7%) compared to its February 2020 numbers, Muscogee County -3,883 (-4.1%), Bibb County -3,400 (-4.1%), Clayton County -3,912 (-3.2%), Richmond County -2,535 (-2.4%), Cherokee County -190 (-0.3%), and Cobb County -154 (-0.0%).

In total, the 43 counties have lost 30,926 jobs (-2.2%) from February 2020 to June 2022. Keep in mind that these losses have occurred even though Georgia has outpaced the nation in job growth over the same time period.

Counties gaining employment

While the losers have been overlooked, the counties winning the employment battle have also been ignored. Many of these 16 counties, like many of the losing counties, start from a relatively small employment basis, so small net gains can have a large impact on local economies.

For some counties, such as Coweta, Jackson, and Butts, the large percentage increases reflect the Atlanta area’s continued population expansion as rural counties become drawn more into the Atlanta metro region. Jackson County is a good example of a county located along the I-85 corridor with lower land costs and allowing easy access to the Atlanta, Athens, and Gainesville metro areas for workers willing to commute.

A number of these counties are outside metro areas, some in the North Georgia mountain region such as Rabun and Union counties, and while it is hard to measure the work-from-home (WFH) movement, it is likely having an impact on these counties, as well as the possibility that people choosing retirement after Covid-related closures and layoffs also chose to move to these close-to but not in metro areas for quality-of-life reasons.

Morgan County with its employment growth is somewhat similar to Jackson County since it is located on the I-20 corridor, close to the Athens metro area, and offers a favorable work-from-home as well as a retirement environment.

Counties showing large percentage increases in employment between February 2020 and June 2022 include:

Jackson County 9,404 (29.5%)

Berrien County 673 (20.1%)

Bryan County 1,578 (17.4%)

Morgan County 1,226 (16.7%)

Hart County 823 (12.5%)

Lumpkin County 945 (12.4%)

Coweta County 4,879 (12.0%)

Warren County 156 (11.9%)

Marion County 134 (11.9%)

Butts County 850 (11.6%)

Rabun County 593 (11.3%)

Union County 779 (11.3%)

Clinch County 254 (11.0%)

Decatur County 880 (10.8%)

Candler County 348 (10.6%)

Long County 104 (10.1%)


Georgia has certainly benefited from the nation’s economic recovery, post-Covid employment gains, but that benefit has not been shared equally among all of the state’s 159 counties. Some are well-positioned for the next downturn in the economy, if one comes, while others have still not recovered from previous losses. It remains to be seen how state policies will affect these separate groups of counties moving forward in to 2023.

Monday, July 12, 2021

Emerging employment center: The Georgia High-Tech I-85 Corridor


The story of the Atlanta metro region has been a story of growth and expansion from the original core counties of Fulton and DeKalb outward, and the Georgia High-Tech I-85 Corridor in the northeast section of the state is an emerging labor market that deserves more attention.

As metro area employment has grown from 2.1 million in 2001 to 2.6 million in 2020, growth pushed out mainly to the north and northwest into northern Fulton County, as well as Cherokee, Cobb, Forsyth, and Gwinnett counties, along with the Gainesville, Ga., MSA that includes only north central Hall County.

One area that stands to benefit from continued metro Atlanta growth are the counties along interstate highway I-85 that connects Atlanta through Greenville, South Carolina, and Charlotte, North Carolina with Richmond, Virginia.

In all, six counties make up the labor market that is anchored at one end by fast-growing Gwinnett County, the corridor extends up to Hart County, which borders South Carolina. Other counties include Banks, Barrow, Franklin, and Jackson.

Lower land prices, access to growing centers, such as Atlanta using the I-85 interstate highway and rail freight lines, as well as a lower average wages related to a lower cost of living are encouraging increases in both population and jobs in the corridor.

Unlike Silicon Valley, or Boston’s Route 128 Technology Corridor, the I-85 corridor is likely to develop primarily with a manufacturing and distribution supply-chain focus.

Below is a profile of the corridor.


Census Bureau figures show that the counties in or closest to the Atlanta metro area have shown the most growth from 2010 to 2019, while those farther away from Atlanta have slower growth rates but contain large areas of undeveloped land to accommodate future growth.

The six counties along the corridor posted a combined population growth rate of 16 percent over the nine-year period, compared to a 9.6 percent growth rate for the state. Jackson and Barrow counties each recorded growth of more than 20 percent over the past nine years, while Gwinnett County, with 80 percent of the six counties’ total population, grew at a remarkable 16.3 percent.

With population growth comes demand for additional goods and services and also an increasing labor force available to meet employers’ demands for workers.


The Census Business Bureau tells that the six counties in the corridor have a higher percentage of the working age population in the labor force compared to the state (67.2 percent compared to 63.2 percent), with a lower percent in poverty (11.2 percent compared to 15.1 percent).

African-Americans make up 24.4 percent of the population compared to 31.6 percent statewide, while Hispanics (of any race) make up 18.7 percent compared to 9.5 percent statewide. Nearly 22 percent of the population is foreign-born, where that percentage drops to 10.1 percent for the state. It is likely that the largest proportion of the foreign-born reside in Gwinnett County with fewer as you travel towards the state border.

As an aside, the number of people who spoke an Asian or Pacific Island language at home was nearly 3x as large in the corridor counties (3.4 percent vs. 1.1 percent statewide). Again, it is likely that Gwinnett County residents have a large impact on these numbers.


From the end of 2001 through 2020, employment in the corridor has increased by nearly 28 percent compared to Georgia’s statewide gain of nearly 16 percent.

Gwinnett County, on the southwest end of the corridor, currently makes up over 80 percent of the corridor’s labor market, so that one county has a huge influence on the corridor’s employment statistics. While the Gwinnett County’s private sector employment has grown by more than 53,000 jobs, the other five counties in the corridor have added an additional 30,000 jobs, resulting in an employment growth rate of nearly 28 percent since the end of calendar year 2001.

Goods-producing and goods distribution has been particularly strong in the counties that make up the corridor. With lots of undeveloped land close to a major metro area and along an interstate highway and rail system, the corridor smaller losses in manufacturing employment compared to the state over the past 19 years while recording larger increases in employment in transportation and warehousing.

Since 2001, manufacturing employment has declined by 17 percent, while employment in transportation and warehousing have risen by 2.5x. In comparison, the state’s manufacturing dropped by 23 percent, while employment in transportation and warehousing grew by 36 percent.

If reshoring of manufacturing, as being now discussed, becomes a fact, it is likely that the counties along the corridor will benefit disproportionately.

The announcement of creation of a new inland port tied to the Port of Savannah in neighboring Hall County will also support manufacturing and warehousing in the adjacent counties of Banks and Jackson counties.


As for wages, compared to the average annual private sector pay of $67,068 for the Atlanta metro area in 2020, average annual pay in the six counties ranged from $36,431 in Banks County to $58,224 in Gwinnett County, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages. This compares to average private sector pay in Georgia at $59,805, and $64,238 for the U.S.

For goods-producing industries (a sector that includes natural resources, construction, and manufacturing), average pay ranged from $45,757 in Franklin County to $67,842 in Gwinnett County, with the state averaging $61,461.

Average income in the six-county corridor was $87,284, $4,800 more than for Georgia as a whole.


The Georgia High-Tech I-85 Corridor represents an emerging labor market located along a major north-south interstate highway and near the growing Atlanta metropolitan region. Emerging labor markets can be difficult to neatly define, as they are not usually included in the regular definitions of statistical areas designated by Federal statistical agencies such as Census and Bureau of Labor Statistics, but that makes watching them grow even more interesting.

Continued economic growth in the Southeast, along with manufacturing reshoring and the possibility of increased exports through the Port of Savannah, will all contribute to the corridor’s economic future.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Georgia’s metro edge counties showing fastest job growth

Counties on the edge of Georgia's metro areas are showing some of the fastest job growth rates, according to recently released information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The 2007-2009 national recession hit Georgia hard. Between December 2007 and December 2009, more than 8% of jobs in the state disappeared.

As we all know now, since then, the state has experienced a strong rebound in jobs, stronger than the nation as a whole. Since December 2009 through the end of December 2016, the state has gained more than half-a-million new jobs, more than offsetting previous losses.

The story of job growth in Georgia since the recession has been the increasing urbanization, as employment growth concentrated in the state’s metro areas, especially in the Atlanta and Savannah metros.

What is less obvious is that some of the strongest post-recession growth has been not in the core counties in these metro areas, but in their so-called “edge counties”, those counties at the periphery, but still included in the metro areas.

These counties have a host of advantages including lots of lower price land that can be developed at lower cost, along with lower taxes, while still being in commuting range of urban centers.

And this story isn’t just about the Atlanta metro area. Non-core counties are showing remarkable job growth in a variety of metro areas around Georgia.

The job numbers speak for themselves (December 2009-December 2016):

  • Twiggs County (Macon MSA): Added 1,317 jobs (+133.4%)
  • Burke County (Augusta MSA): Added 4,570 jobs (+77.0%)
  • Jackson County (Atlanta MSA): Added 9,745 jobs (+59.1%)
  • Echols County (Valdosta MSA): Added 230 jobs (+45.1%)
  • Bryan County (Savannah MSA): Added 2,415 jobs (+42.9%)
  • Oconee County (Athens MSA): Added 3,199 jobs (+40.6%)
  • Jones County (Macon MSA): Added 1,329 jobs (+40.2%)
  • Forsyth County (Atlanta MSA): Added 20,033 jobs (+38.0%)
  • Monroe County (Macon MSA): Added 1,871 jobs (+32.8%)
  • Troup County (Atlanta MSA): Added 9,816 jobs (+32.7%)

For the most recent time frame (December 2015-December 2016), the story remains the same, with Twiggs, Burke, and Oconee counties showing the highest percentage job growth for Georgia counties in metro areas, followed by Meriwether, Murray, and Jackson counties.

Here are the county job growth numbers for the top 10 metro counties between December 2015 and December 2016 (most recent data available from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics):

  • Twiggs County (Macon MSA): Added 1,156 jobs (+100.7%)
  • Burke County (Augusta MSA): Added 3,533 jobs (+50.7%)
  • Oconee County (Athens MSA): Added 1,092 jobs (+10.9%)
  • Meriwether County (Atlanta MSA): Added 422 jobs (+9.7%)
  • Murray County (Dalton MSA & Chattanooga MSA): Added 880 jobs (+9.6%)
  • Jackson County (Atlanta MSA): Added 2,115 jobs (+8.8%)
  • Lee County (Albany MSA): Added 491 jobs (+8.1%)
  • Walton County (Atlanta MSA): Added 1,520 jobs (+7.2%)
  • Paulding County (Atlanta MSA): Added 1,531 jobs (+7.0%)
  • Oglethorpe County (Athens MSA): Added 107 jobs (+6.9%)

Admittedly, many of these counties start from a low employment base, which makes it easier to reach the high percentage increases, but consistently, these high job growth counties share one common feature: They are located in a metro area, but are not the core county for that area.

The fast growth of these “edge counties” calls into question earlier reports that people were abandoning the suburbs in favor of urban cores.

Judging from the data, it appears that while Georgia is participating in the general trend towards urban areas over rural ones, many citizens of the state are increasingly able to find work not in the urban core but at the outer edges of these increasingly metro areas.