Georgia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to 8.8 percent in July, up from 8.5 percent in June, 8.3 percent in May, and 8.2 percent in April. The latest press release from the Ga. Dept. of Labor blames the increase in part on the number of unemployed “non-contract school employees,” but the data have already been adjusted for ordinary seasonal trends.
The increasing unemployment rate now leaves Georgia tied with Michigan for the 5th worst rate in the nation, according to the latest from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The only states with higher rates are Nevada (9.5 percent), Illinois (9.2 percent), North Carolina (8.9 percent), and Rhode Island (8.9 percent). Yes, the unemployment rate in Georgia is now worse than California’s.
Click here to see Calculated Risk’s bar graph for all the states.
The unemployment rate is estimated from the ongoing survey of households, but the headline employment numbers come from an ongoing survey of payroll establishments. Interestingly, Georgia was third in the nation — in a good way — in terms of percentage payroll employment growth over the past year.
According to last week’s release, Georgia’s nonfarm payroll employment grew by 2.9 percent over the previous 12 months. That reflects a vigorous 3.6 percent annual growth in private sector employment. Those gains were tempered by government job losses, including a 4 percent statewide decline in federal employment.
But the payroll job growth in Georgia over the past year has been largely propelled by the Atlanta metro area (3.1 percent growth compared to July 2012). Athens (+2.3 percent) and Augusta (+2.1 percent) were the next best performers among Georgia’s metro areas, but the rate of growth was below 1 percent in Columbus, Brunswick, Savannah, Albany, Dalton, Rome and Warner Robins.
And the rising unemployment rate suggests that payroll job growth is not nearly fast enough to keep up with both population growth and with the number of Georgians who are entering the labor force.
We’ll see a little more data later this week.
It will be interesting to see if and when the state’s unemployment rate becomes a more important political issue. So far, state leaders have avoided tough questions about the stagnating and deteriorating conditions in much of the state.