Showing posts with label qcew. Show all posts
Showing posts with label qcew. Show all posts

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Georgia’s largest counties post solid employment gains but wages continue to lag nation

Employment grew in 9 of Georgia’s 10 largest counties from June 2017 to June 2018, according to newly released information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Statewide, Georgia added 87,732 jobs, an increase of nearly 2% compared to the nation’s growth of 1.5%. Combined, the 9 largest counties accounted for a net addition of 43,440 new jobs.  The state’s 9 largest counties accounted for almost half of the state’s new jobs with the other half coming from the state’s remaining 150 counties. (Georgia has a total of 159 counties, more than any state with the exception of Texas.)

While employment in the state outpaced the nation for the 12 months ending in June, average weekly wages continued lag the national average as the state adds more jobs but at lower wages.

As of the second quarter of 2018, the average weekly wage in Georgia was $979, 7% below the national average of $1,055. Over the past year, weekly wages in Georgia grew by 2.2% compared to national wage growth of 3.3%.

Employment Changes June 2017 to June 2018

Fulton County (part of the Atlanta, Georgia Metropolitan Statistical Area) recorded the largest numerical job increase (20,620), while Hall County (which constitutes the Gainesville, Georgia MSA) showed the largest percentage increase (2.6%) over the year.

Of the 10 largest counties in the state, only Bibb County (part of the Macon, Georgia MSA) reported stagnant employment. Two counties showed employment growth of less than 1% over the year with Clayton County (part of the Atlanta, Georgia MSA) growing by only 615 jobs, while employment in Richmond County (part of the Augusta, Georgia MSA) increased by only 551 jobs.

10-year Employment Changes

Over the past 10 years, employment growth in Georgia has outpaced the nation. From June 2008 to June 2018, Georgia added 382,194 new jobs, an increase of 9.4% compared to the national increase of 7.9%.

Job growth has been concentrated in 8 of the 10 largest counties, which accounted for an increase of 266,057 jobs over the decade, or more than two-thirds of the state’s total job growth. As of June 2018, those 8 counties accounted for 53% of total employment in the state, up from 51% in June 2008.

Employment increases in the 8 counties over the decade ranged from 17.9% for Fulton County to 1% for DeKalb County (part of the Atlanta, Georgia MSA).

Declines occurred in the middle Georgia counties of Bibb, which lost 2,994 jobs over the decade, as well as Muscogee (part of the Columbus, Georgia MSA), which suffered a net loss of 1,767 jobs.

Changes in Average Weekly Wage June 2017 to June 2018

Fulton County continued to report the highest average weekly wage among the state’s largest counties at $1,353 per week, an increase of 1.8% over the year. Clayton County showed the greatest percentage increase with average weekly wages rising by 5.5%.

Cobb County (part of the Atlanta, Georgia MSA) recorded the only average weekly wage decline over the 12 months, dropping an average of $3 to $1,067 per week.

10-year Wage Growth

Georgia wages, already below the national average in 2008, continued to grow slower than the nation over the past decade. From the second quarter of 2008 to the second quarter of 2018, average weekly wages in Georgia rose 24.6% compared to a national increase of 25.4%.

All 10 of the largest counties in the state showed wage increases over the decade with both Clayton and Hall counties showing percentage growth above the national average. Ten-year average wage growth in the counties ranged from 33.8% for Clayton County to 15.6% in Gwinnett County (part of the Atlanta, Georgia MSA).

As of the second quarter of 2018, Muscogee County recorded the lowest average weekly wage among the 10 largest counties in the state at $797, more than 18% below the state’s average and more than 24% below the national average.

Data in this report comes from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) program. More information is available at

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Where did Zippia go wrong?

Web site names Cochran, Dublin among worst places to find work in Georgia

Zippia lists themselves as career experts. They may be but they are not experts in labor statistics. In July, they published “These Are The 10 Worst Places In Georgia To Get A Job”.

Unsurprisingly, officials in some of those cities and towns were not pleased to see their localities appear on that list.

"Dublin is the regional hub for about 15 counties in Middle Georgia from a labor and employment standpoint. So if there's been a more successful community for job creation in this state, I'd like to know about it," according to Brad Lofton, development authority president in Dublin, as quoted by WMGT-TV.

On its website, Zippia says it used the following criteria to determine its list:

·       Unemployment rate
·       Recent job growth
·       Future job growth
·       Sales Tax
·       Median household income

So how did Zippia use statistics to come to its misleading conclusions?

Unemployment rate

Confusing employment with jobs is a common mistake. The unemployment rate is determined by an estimate based on households. By definition, it measures where people live, not where they work.

It is much better to measure relative job opportunities by looking at the number of jobs growing or declining in an area, not the number of people employed in that area.  

Cochran Mayor Michael Stoy makes a good point in the same story when he says, "We are looking at a large percentage of our population that goes up to Warner Robins."

When BLS or the Georgia Department of Labor counts a new job, that job is counted in the community where it is created. When a statistical agency counts the number of employed or unemployed, they are counted based on where the people live not where they work.

For example, my neighborhood, in a suburb of Atlanta, has only houses in it, so by definition, it would be regarded as a bad place to get a job since the neighborhood is residential with no businesses. Residents have jobs outside the neighborhood, so their jobs are counted where they go to work. If they commute to Atlanta, the job is counted as located in Atlanta, but they are counted as employed in my neighborhood. If a resident loses a job in Atlanta, they would be counted as unemployed where they live, in my neighborhood in this example, not in the City of Atlanta.

There is an undeserved negative connotation in listing a place as “worse to get a job” if the people in that area commute elsewhere for employment. Unless you believe that everyone should work out of their homes, using unemployment statistics to measure job growth is a poor choice.

Recent job growth

Recent job growth (or decline) should be the number one, and perhaps, only criteria to determine “worst places to get a job.” It is hard to know the data used by the site in determining job numbers because they are very general in their description.

For example, it says about Fitzgerald, Ga., “The city ranks as having the weakest recent job growth.” 

Hard to judge based on that general statement, which is more definitive than some of the statements for other cities and towns on the list. Here is where hard numbers and some definitions would help.

Future job growth

The Bureau of Labor Statistics produces an occupational outlook for the United States, and the Georgia Department of Labor produces a similar report for Georgia. 

Beyond these two reports, job forecasting for small cities and towns is much more problematic.

It is true that smaller areas in Georgia have not seen the growth of the larger metro areas such as Atlanta, and that is worrying, but it is difficult, if not impossible to accurately forecast growth for a particular small area.

This is even truer for smaller areas, because an area with a small employment base can be radically affected by the opening or closure of one establishment. I also don’t know how much into the future they are attempting to forecast, but it is hard to make an accurate forecast of job growth in a small area beyond 6 months.

It is easier to forecast larger areas, such as states, than smaller areas like communities where small changes can have large impacts.

Sales tax

I have no idea how sales tax relates to getting a job, and I don’t know if they are speaking about the amount of sales tax or the growth rate of the tax. I am sure the site has some way of using these data, but it is not obvious.

Median household income

Poorer areas tend to have fewer services, and jobs in poor areas tend to pay less. That impacts the salaries for jobs, but not the number of jobs themselves. The “study” was to be about the worst places to find a job, not a study of the areas with the lowest paying jobs. 

The two criteria are not the same. Georgia is growing faster than many states with higher median household income. 

Hopefully, the web site does a better job of finding employment for people than giving advice.

Job losses in Georgia counties

Below are two tables that may be more useful than the information provided by Zippia. 

The first shows the largest net job losses for Georgia counties in 2014. The second shows the largest percentage job losses in Georgia counties in 2014. There is some overlap, but many of the counties on each list are different, as you might expect. Both tables are looking back on 2014, not forecasting the future.

As a comparison using the same source, Georgia, as a state, added 147,335 job in 2014 for a growth rate of 3.7%.

Table A. Net job losses in calendar year 2014

Baldwin -708
Colquitt -453
Telfair -338
Dawson -255
Upson -253
Thomas -242
Marion -200
Stephens -199
Dodge -165
Elbert -151

Table B. Percentage job losses in calendar year 2014

Marion -12.8%
Talbot -10.2%
Telfair -9.0%
Wheeler -8.9%
Heard -6.4%
Clay -4.8%
Twiggs -4.5%
Baldwin -4.5%
Glascock -4.3%
Webster -4.0%

Data obtained from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages.