Showing posts with label mark butler. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mark butler. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Georgia Commissioner of Labor seat open as Mark Butler chooses not to seek re-election

 According to the Associated Press (AP), Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler will not seek a fourth term overseeing the state’s unemployment and job search system.

The Republican, in a memo to staff at the state Labor Department, wrote that it is “my intention to retire from politics at the end of my term to concentrate on family and new opportunities.”

Butler, who was a state House member from Carrollton for eight years before he was elected labor commissioner in 2010, said that the decision was motivated in part by a recurrence of his wife’s cancer after she had gone into remission in 2021.

The three-term commissioner was facing a tough re-election fight due to criticism of the Georgia Department of Labor for its handling of unemployment claims during the early part of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.

“I’m extremely proud of how the men and women of the Department of Labor stepped up and put in long hours taking on unbelievable odds during this pandemic,” Butler wrote in the memo

Challengers for the position in Georgia so far include: 

Kartik Bhatt

William Boddie

Lester Jackson

Bruce Thompson

 It remains to be seen if others will enter the race now that there is no incumbent in the race.

Georgia is the only state in the nation with an elected Labor Commissioner. In most states, the governor appoints the head of the state labor department and is directly responsible for the person fulfilling those duties.

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 na├»ve 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.


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.

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.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler responds to labor force problems by threatening unemployed workers

Yesterday, I posted a blog on this site detailing a number of news reports about Georgia’s labor force, most of them negative.

Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler chose to respond by posting a YouTube video threatening workers over the smaller issue of unemployment insurance fraud in a response that could be considered both tone-deaf and irresponsible.

From the University of California Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education’s report on “Producing Poverty: The Public Cost of Low-Wage Production Jobs in Manufacturing”, to the New York Times’s story on “Hiring Hurdle: Finding Workers Who Can Pass a Drug Test,” the message is that Georgia’s labor force needs the same positive approach that the state puts towards economic development.

The AAUW’s finding on the large pay inequality between men and women in Georgia, or the U.S. Department’s view that tightening the rules on overtime will affect more than 158,000 low wage workers in Georgia, are additional measures that the state’s workforce needs positive reinforcement.

That should not be a hard message for state officials to understand, as they should know that attracting employers to Georgia depends on supplying companies with good quality workers.

Yes, unemployment insurance fraud is a problem in Georgia, as it is elsewhere, and Georgia has done a reasonable job of enforcing the rules, but focusing on this story to the exclusion of the more critical challenges facing Georgia workers is a misplaced priority.

He could just as easily made a video addressing worker misclassification that costs Georgia workers millions of dollars each year in lost wages, but I don’t think we will see that video anytime soon.

There are simply bigger issues facing Georgia’s workers, and it makes Mr. Butler’s choice of topics look like an attempt to distract the citizens of Georgia from the more important issues facing the state’s workers.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Georgia posts very strong October employment numbers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Georgia unemployment rate drops, job growth is modest in August

Georgia added 2,200 jobs in August, while the state’s unemployment rate dropped to 5.9%.

“This is the first time Georgia’s unemployment rate has dropped below six percent since May 2008,” said State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. “The rate declined as our employers laid off the fewest workers for any month in more than 15 years and continued to create jobs.”

In a YouTube video, Commissioner Butler alluded to the fact that the decline in the rate was due to people dropping out of the labor force rather than people finding jobs. Layoffs decline while a slowdown continues in the number of new jobs being created by companies and government.

Nonfarm employment rose by 2,200 in August, a modest gain compared to the increase of 14,300 jobs in August 2014.

There was good news in the revision of the preliminary count of jobs in July. The July jobs number was revised upward from the preliminary 4,600 jobs to a revised count of 10,500 jobs.

Over the year, the state has added 83,200 jobs, its slowest 12-month increase since 2013.

In 2014, the state was growing faster than the nation, but that has now changed. Georgia’s job growth at 2.0% is slower than the national rate of 2.1% despite recent drops in the price of gasoline, which is putting more money into the pocket of consumers and Georgia businesses, such as Delta Air Lines and UPS.