Georgia now has nation’s 5th worst unemployment rate

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.


  1. sockpuppet says:

    So long as the national economy stinks and the president of the United States and mayor of Atlanta are both urban Democrats, the unemployment rate is not going to be an issue because the voters will have plenty of ammunition to blame the policies of Obama and Reid for being the main problems with the Georgia economy.

  2. notsplost says:

    The picture that seems to be emerging here is that while the rest of the state sinks further into recession, the Atlanta metro area gets to prosper at least in a relative sense.

    This is unbalanced and unhealthy. As rural areas depopulate and folks come into the metro area looking for work, the traffic and crime problems here will only get worse. A smarter policy would be to promote economic development in other parts of the state, as land and resources that are scarce in metro Atlanta may be cheaper and more readily available elsewhere in the state.

    If course don’t tell this to the ARC as they will insist on the importance of cheap growth and continued migration into the region with the religious fervor of a bible-thumping fundamentalist.

  3. saltycracker says:

    But traffic is worse, the stores and restaurants are packed and construction is rebounding- including roads and public buildings – plus more folks are finding ways to operate under the radar….and in metro areas….
    GA must have strange variables….

  4. Jane says:

    The unemployment is truly bad in Georgia, but there are regional differences between some pretty good Suburban areas and the Urban area. My area is fairly urban so it is still very bad. However, I know many Suburban people who spend very little money or time in an urban community. So, the concept of two maybe three Georgia’s is alive and well.

    • saltycracker says:

      While usually cynical I have run into a few really nice folks recently just facing some tough times for different reasons. Perhaps our system is so overwhelmed by the perennial leaches and their professional supporters that we just can’t retrieve a pecan from a cow pie.

      There are no community leaders that will authenticate and demand personal responsibility in order to deal with the limited resources for attention to those in real need.

      • sockpuppet says:

        Oh please. Like there are more “perennial leeches and their professional supporters” now than there was barely 7 years ago when we had a 5% unemployment rate, or during the Clinton era when the unemployment rate was even lower. Another problem: nonsense like that always blames the other side and points the finger at somebody else. No one ever looks in the mirror. It is always the fault of “the other.”

        Here’s the deal: because of the rising cost of living, lots of jobs and employment sectors are no longer viable. People aren’t going to spend 60 hours a week working in factories and on farms to scratch out a living that doesn’t even provide them the basics. So those jobs are gone to places where the standard of living is lower and they aren’t coming back. Jobs that provide a “decent living” according to the modern American standard (and not the standard of 1920 or 1940 or 1960)? Most of them require college or vocational training that most people don’t have. And the funny part: even if everyone received college or vocational training there still wouldn’t be enough of those jobs, because there are only going to be so many of those jobs in an economy, especially since that skilled work is also now being done in other countries too (including places where the standard of living is lower).

        Neither party or ideology that is dominant in America right now is talking about this. Well the Democrats are indirectly, because their plan is to provide social welfare for the people who they know won’t have jobs in this economy. (In other words, doing what social democracies all over the world have done.) Their ideology is that everyone who doesn’t make a “living wage” or above should be guaranteed a minimum standard of living with welfare benefits. You don’t like that ideology? Fine. But it beats the alternative, which is conservatives pretending that if we get rid of all the unions, trial lawyers, taxes and environmental regulations, we will A) get those low-paying jobs back and B) we will get a population full of people willing to work them, and have their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren also (because there will be no real class mobility). It would be one thing if conservatives were to be honest and say “the good life isn’t going to be attainable for a significant portion of the population” but they don’t. Instead, they let people believe that their agenda will lead to more high-paying jobs when it won’t. Their agenda is to make us more competitive with overseas for lower paying jobs. Which is fine, but someone still has to take those jobs and be content with the lifestyle that it gets them, and that isn’t the GOP message.

        So voters are left to choose between a welfare state party that they despise and a low paying jobs party that is lying to them about the low paying part. What a choice. But as long as people keep throwing around the “perennial leeches” nonsense it isn’t going to change.

        • saltycracker says:

          Better take another look at the numbers fleecing the system, not all are on food stamps and disability, some wear suits, have PhD’s and work for the public or too big to fails. Incomes are polarizing. Appears both extremes in the parties share the blame.

          The U.S. still has a pretty big economy and has the most innovative people in the world that given the right environment can right the ship. Not many smart folks giving up yet and moving out unless the hopelessness of your dark view gets legs.

          • sockpuppet says:


            Funny. Working for the government is now fleecing the public. Does that include the Department of Agriculture? Tell that to the red states – Georgia included – who banded together to stop efforts to dismantle the Department of Agriculture in the 1990s. Ditto to the oil/coal/gas etc. states who stopped efforts to dismantle the Department of Energy, who has plenty of Ph.Ds. You know who else has a ton of Ph.D’s and high earning people? The Pentagon. Homeland Security. And NSA. Yet no so long ago opposing the massive expansion of that complex was anti-American unpatriotic blame America first siding with the terrorists. Until, that is, Obama became president. That is when what the same GOP crowd who rejected what Ron Paul was trying to tell them in 2008 became huge Rand Paul fans today. Here’s guessing that when Rick Perry becomes president in 2016, those surveillance state Ph.D’s won’t be viewed as leeches anymore.

            As far as too big to fail PhD’s … name the last serious Republican attempt to do anything about too big to fail. I will go ahead and save you the trouble: when Ronald Reagan broke up AT&T/Bell monopoly in 1982. Except that Reagan didn’t initiate that trust-busting action. The lawsuit to break up the telecom regulated monopoly began in 1974. Neo-cons have spent the last 30 years railing against anti-trust laws. Robert Bork’s opposition to anti-trust laws was one of the reasons why he was kept off the Supreme Court, and he has been a hero figure in neo-con circles ever since. The left has had other matters on their hands, so as a result corporate mergers and monopolies due to anti-trust laws not being enforced is what caused too-big-to-fail to begin with (that and increased globalization and promotion of internationalist corporatism, another hallmark of neo-con ideology that was also supported and promoted by DLC centrist Democrats). The folks who criticize the “too big to fail” bailouts by Obama (and Bush) conveniently fail to point out that they actually were too big to fail because if they did the effects on the national and global economy would be catastrophic. You think the great recession was bad? Let Bank of America go belly up and see the results. How would we get out of that one, since there is no world war to pull us out like during the great depression? Before you talk about fleecing, provide me with any right-of-center leading politician who has proposed doing anything about too big to fail. They haven’t. I still remember when those guys were castigating Bill Clinton for breaking up the Microsoft monopoly (when it was really just chipping away at the edges of it). Now that Microsoft is getting their teeth kicked in by Apple, Samsung and Google right now because those companies are selling devices that were actually technologically viable 10-15 years ago but couldn’t get to market because Microsoft had no interest in them, that talk seems kind of foolish, but I guess being a neo-con means never having to say that you are sorry (you know, about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq or bringing democracy to the Middle East/Afghanistan at the barrel of a gun in addition to economics … stuff like that).

            “The U.S. still has a pretty big economy and has the most innovative people in the world that given the right environment can right the ship. Not many smart folks giving up yet and moving out unless the hopelessness of your dark view gets legs”

            Ha! My view isn’t the dark view. It is the truth. The Democrats have long acknowledged this. I just don’t like their solution, which is European social democracy. The GOP is perfectly willing to improve upon their current politics of being dishonest with voters combined with importing foreign workers for cheap labor (both low skilled low wage workers via amnesty and higher paid skilled workers via H1-B visas). I put the balance of the blame on the GOP because the Democrats are actually dealing with the problem. You read the liberal advocacy sites, even the mainstream media sites, and they talk about this all the time. So do major politicians and leaders in the Democratic Party. It is the GOP that keeps trying to spin fairy tales to get through the next election, then the next, then the next. Until they stop, it is the social welfare politics of the Democrats or nothing.

            That’s why you see no action whatsoever on this blog post. No comments at all. If it were about California going down the tubes or Detroit’s bankruptcy, there’d be dozens of comments lambasting Democrats, unions, minority voters, welfare recipients, crime, civil rights groups, you name it. But since this is deep red Georgia, no one has anything to say. Typical.

          • benevolus says:

            “The U.S. still has … the most innovative people in the world”. Maybe somewhere in the US, but not around these parts!
            Transportation? NO!
            Minimum school standards? NO!
            Global warming? NO!
            Need rain? PRAY!
            See a problem? CUT THE FUNDING!
            Make everyone pay for their healthcare? NO!

            Careening towards feudalism.

            • saltycracker says:

              B, finish the quote….then the environment isn’t right….

              Pick one – Education – s/b focusing on the kids and the future – it isn’t –
              For the Democrats it is about the jobs, high paid administrators and early retirement and smashing the Republican agenda, whatever it is. For the Republicans it is about controlling the classroom agenda and smashing the Democrat’s agenda, whatever it is.

              Problem: Republicans, cut the funding or redirect it to the influential, Democrats, throw money at it and do not enforce or oversee.

              Need rain – Republicans- Pray…….Democrats, it is the Republicans fault….

              Transportation – Republicans – keep fuel & related taxes low, redirect funds….Democrats, high speed rail between low income counties in South Georgia….

              Global warming: Republicans – increased world population and global industrialization have no effect…..Democrats, change light bulbs and take the place of venture capital with public funds for favored political projects

              Healthcare: you’ve seen my many posts on this – both parties are self absorbed and unwilling to come together for what is good for American – Obamacare will make it much worse for the working middle….

              feudalism – no – oligarchies and a hell of a spread in income…..

              Everyone feels screwed because of the actions by the leaders of both parties and the paradoxical empirical observations of every day life…..We demand each party make it better for its members……

              Eyes wide open B……?

              • saltycracker says:

                B – got interrupted in my carrying on and meant to get in a shot at our R/D arrangement of quid pro quo –
                example: you get food stamps to barter for whatever and we get farm subsidies for agri-industry while 70%+ of GA farmers get to eat cake. Dollar wise on this one, you are the big winner.

                and you prefer trains to move folks around that don’t have cars and we just hope for them to get to a ball game…..

  5. Bucky Plyler says:

    Unemployment has been a new thing for me for the past year. Frankly, I never thought I would go this long without full time employment. I currently have 4 part time jobs & I’m working on 6 ! This may be the new normal.

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