Latest Georgia Department of Labor estimates show solid job gains

December 20, 2012 15:32 pm

by Bill Dawers · 1 comment

From the Georgia Department of Labor’s press release earlier today:

The Georgia Department of Labor announced today that Georgia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined to 8.5 percent in November, down two-tenths of a percentage point from 8.7 percent in October. The rate was 9.5 percent in November a year ago.

“This is the lowest state unemployment rate in nearly four years, since it was 8.5 percent in January 2009,” said State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. “Once again, the rate dropped because of continued job growth and fewer new layoffs.” […]

Over-the-year growth remains consistent, showing an increase of 61,900 jobs since November 2011. The growth was primarily in professional and business services, up 20,100; trade, transportation, and warehousing, up 15,800; manufacturing, up 12,200; education and health care, up 11,700; leisure and hospitality, up 6,800; and information services, up 5,000.

This is a fairly promising report.

As I’ve noted here before, these estimates come from two separate surveys. The payroll jobs estimate comes from a survey of establishments, while the unemployment rate comes from a survey of households that’s fairly noisy on a month-to-month basis.

The 1.6 percent increase year-over-year in payroll jobs in the state is pretty good — better than we’d expect just from population growth. The growth looks even better when we dig into the data and see a 1 percent decline in government employment since November 2011. Georgia’s private sector employment grew at a healthy rate of 2.1 percent over the last year.

Construction employment declined another 2.3 percent over the past year, but there’s reason to think that number will begin a healthy rebound in 2013.

As I’ve noted here before, the payroll jobs recovery has not been spread evenly across the state, but we’re finally seeing solid growth in a few metro areas that had been lagging.

All of the following metros saw payroll employment gains over the past year: Brunswick (4.6 percent), Gainesville (4.2 percent), Savannah (3.1 percent), Athens (2.8 percent), Macon (2.2 percent), Valdosta (1.5 percent), Atlanta (1.5 percent), Hinesville (1.0 percent), Albany (.7 percent), and Rome (.5 percent).

The list of metros that lost jobs over the last 12 months is getting shorter: Warner Robins (-.3 percent), Columbus (-.6 percent), Augusta (-.7 percent), and Dalton (-3.2 percent).

The number of initial claims for unemployment insurance fell in November compared to a year ago in every metro area in the state.

We’ll get more data from the household survey next week, but today’s press release indicates that the unemployment rate declined because more Georgians reported having work rather than because of folks leaving the labor force. The total number of unemployed (those who want to be working but aren’t) fell by about 40,000 over the last year.

I’ll take it.

Dave Bearse December 22, 2012 at 11:58 am

The untold story is that the wage and benefit cuts for those that remained employed through the recession are the new normal, and new employment is at lower pay and benefits.

The evisceration of the middle class underway as society stratifies into haves and have nots continues unabated. It’s increasingly clear in the marketplace. High and low end retailers seem to be recovering, while middle class stalwarts like Penney’s and Sears stagnate.

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