The Georgia Department of Labor released some data for June today, including the number of initial claims for unemployment, the state and local payroll jobs numbers, and the statewide unemployment rate.
Info on each of those:
The decline in unemployment claims is probably the bright spot in the data and suggests some additional economic stability. Statewide, there were 48,879 claims in June 2012 vs. 58,981 claims in June 2011. Every metro area except Dalton saw a year-over-year decline.
The payroll jobs data shows a decent year-over-year increase of 1.2 percent from 3,888,100 jobs in June 2011 to 3,933,300 in June 2012. But, as I have noted (see here and here), the jobs recovery is not consistent across the state. Compared to a year ago, there was job growth in Gainesville, Macon, Atlanta, Athens, Valdosta, and Columbus. Hinesville’s employment count was flat. The following metros lost jobs over the last 12 months: Albany, Savannah, Brunswick, Warner Robins, Rome, Augusta, and Dalton.
The statewide unemployment rate increased from 8.9 percent in May to 9.0 percent in June. Here’s how Labor Commissioner Mark Butler explained the rise in today’s press release: “The unemployment rate traditionally inches up in June because new graduates and people hunting summer jobs enter the job market at the same time the private and public schools are laying off for the summer.”
There’s just one problem with that characterization: the statewide unemployment rate has already been adjusted to account for seasonal trends. Now, maybe there’s a problem with the seasonal adjustment that is currently being applied to the data, but you can’t readily blame seasonality for the higher rate if the numbers have already been adjusted for seasonality.
It seems that the increase in the unemployment rate is primarily tied to an increase in the size of the labor force (a larger labor force is not a bad thing), but the Department of Labor will not release the hard data on which the unemployment rate is based for another week or so.
Last month, I was asked to look at Georgia’s job gains and losses since the beginning of the recession with a breakdown of private sector vs. public sector employment. I’ll try to get to that in a few days.