From today’s press release from the Georgia Department of Labor:
The Georgia Department of Labor announced today that Georgia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased to 8.3 percent in May. The rate was up one-tenth of a percentage point from 8.2 percent in April, but it was down eight-tenths of a percentage point from 9.1 percent in May a year ago. [...]
Over-the-year growth added 68,500 jobs, or 1.7 percent, since May 2012 when there were 3,974,700 jobs. The sectors showing strong growth were professional and business services, 32,400; education and health services, 15,300; and leisure and hospitality, 14,900. Government jobs were down by 10,000.
Despite the slight increase in the unemployment rate, this looks like a decent report at first glance. Year-over-year growth of 1.7 percent is pretty solid — likely fast enough to exceed population growth. Georgia’s private sector actually increased employment by 2.4 percent compared to May 2012.
But some of the details here are pretty lousy. Only the Atlanta metro area posted fairly robust numbers, with the rest of the state’s metros either adding jobs slowly or losing jobs compared to a year ago.
Atlanta saw year-over-year growth of 2 percent. Augusta was 2nd in the state with a growth of just 1 percent. There was job growth of less than 1 percent in Athens, Valdosta, Savannah, Macon, and Gainesville.
The following metro areas actually lost jobs over the past year: Columbus (-.1 percent), Brunswick (-.2 percent), Albany (-.5 percent), Warner Robins (-.7 percent), Dalton (-.8 percent), Hinesville (-1.0 percent), and Rome (-1.0 percent). Six metro areas in May also saw year-over-year increases in claims for unemployment insurance.
Good news for the Atlanta job market is also evident in the 5.1 percent year-over-year increase in construction jobs. But the rest of the state collectively saw another yearly decline in construction employment.
I know many readers of this blog don’t want to hear this, but it has seemed obvious for a long time that Georgia’s smaller metro areas could face particular difficulties because of the defense drawdown and sequestration. The Atlanta metro area seems to be proving itself big enough and diversified enough to weather the combined effects of sequestration, the elimination of the payroll tax cut, and other economic headwinds.
Here in Savannah, we’ve had any number of major developments and store openings announced in recent months. But those investments haven’t yet spurred significant job growth. The next few months could give us some critical information.