Georgia’s unemployment rate falls to lowest level in 5 years, but it’s not all good news

December 19, 2013 13:16 pm

by Bill Dawers · 23 comments

From the Georgia Department of Labor:

The Georgia Department of Labor announced today that Georgia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased to 7.7 percent in November, its lowest point since November 2008, when it was 7.6 percent. The rate is down four-tenths of a percentage point from 8.1 percent in October and a full percentage point from 8.7 percent in November a year ago.

The unemployment rate is based on data generated from the survey of households. We won’t see all those numbers until next week.

The numbers released today include the estimates for November from the survey of payroll establishments. Georgia saw a pretty solid 2.3 percent gain in payroll jobs over the last year. But the song has the same refrain: those gains were concentrated in Atlanta, with over half of Georgia’s metro areas losing jobs over the last year or adding them at a rate that’s likely too slow to keep up with population growth.

Here’s a screenshot of the key employment numbers by metro:

Screen shot 2013-12-19 at 1.06.26 PM

The best news in today’s report is probably the continued decline in initial filings for unemployment insurance. Statewide, there were 47,351 claims in November 2012 but only 33,781 in November 2013.

peachpundit (@peachpundit) December 19, 2013 at 1:16 pm

New post: Georgia’s unemployment rate falls to lowest level in 5 years, but it’s not all good news http://t.co/k01afkNYG4 #gapol

atl_man December 19, 2013 at 1:36 pm

The unemployment rate – in the context of the great recession – should include the labor force participation rate. During the Clinton and Bush and Reagan boom, we had very low unemployment rates (though not AS low during the Reagan era) combined with very high workforce participation rates. During the Obama administration, the slow falling of the unemployment rate from its peak of 10.0 in October 2009 (and then 9.9 in March 2010) to possibly below 7.0% in December has been accompanied with a very large decrease in the labor force participation rate, long term unemployed people that have given up looking for work and will have a difficult time getting back to work due to the gap in their employment history.

So I wonder what the labor force participation rate is in Georgia in comparison with, say, 2006 or 2007?

Bill Dawers December 19, 2013 at 1:50 pm

I agree that we should be paying more attention to the participation rate, but it’s tricky because of changing demographics. Calculated Risk does a great job of tracking and discussing the participation rate. The latest: http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2013/12/november-employment-report-203000-jobs.html

The participation rate and the employment-to-population rate peaked in 2000/2001 and have been on a longterm downward trend since. That is due in part to the aging baby boomers moving into early retirement, but also obviously has to do with other factors like discouraged workers. Job growth, especially in the private sector, was pretty lousy for years after the 2001 recession and overall job growth, especially in the public sector, has been pretty lousy during and after the 2007-2009 recession.

Georgia’s DOL doesn’t typically release all the data on the participation rate, but I’ll see if I can track down some current and historical numbers. I would expect, however, for the rate here to be close to the national trends cited in that post linked here.

saltycracker December 20, 2013 at 12:30 am

Not scientific but the more common interaction, by those I’ve talked to, with those that might be classified as haven given up are folks actually operating off the radar with a spouse or significant other in the mainstream workforce.

Chris Huttman December 21, 2013 at 5:53 pm

I think in the household survey, those people would be included if they say they are working for themselves or something similar.

saltycracker December 22, 2013 at 11:29 am

Off the radar folks are too clever for that, imagining computer crosschecks for required submissions.

Jon Lester December 22, 2013 at 12:41 pm

I wonder how many of the nominally non-participating labor force are actually freelancing, informally doing business among family and friends. I remember a lot of that happening in the 70′s, and I’m kind of doing that myself, now, to a modest degree.

Bill Dawers December 23, 2013 at 12:48 pm

The participation rate and unemployment rate are determined from the ongoing survey of households, which always shows more people reporting themselves as employed than show up in the payroll jobs estimates. Unless people are working illegally, they would have little reason to lie and say they are not working or not part of the labor force.

Of course, maybe a lot more people are working off the books, not paying taxes, etc?

Anecdotally, I’d say there’s actually less of that happening now in Savannah than there was during the boom, when it seemed that a lot of day laborers and the like were working for cash that they almost certainly weren’t reporting.

saltycracker December 23, 2013 at 5:03 pm

Anecdotally there may be fewer jobs but the percentage of off the radar folks is growing and what surprises me is the number of small business owners skimming cash and individuals/looters milking the tax system in a variety if ways. Of course when you have Apple and others moving money around globally to extremes to legally dodge taxes and no enforcement of bonafide abuses of our social supports, everyone getting a W-2 or 1099 feels envious or pissed.

saltycracker December 23, 2013 at 5:11 pm

The cure: overhaul the tax code
Disclosure: most hope they don’t

Thomas Adams (@GeorgiaCRE) December 19, 2013 at 2:28 pm

Georgia’s unemployment rate falls to lowest level in 5 years, but it’s not all good news http://t.co/KhVqrnHfcx

Thomas Adams (@GeorgiaCRE) December 19, 2013 at 2:28 pm

Georgia’s unemployment rate falls to lowest level in 5 years, but it’s not all good news http://t.co/KhVqrnHfcx

South Fulton Guy December 19, 2013 at 2:33 pm

After the gutting the Secretary of State’s IT Department Management team, Brian Kemp is going on a hiring blitz posting the first series of jobs to replace all of the staff managers that are gone, as they ask all of the remaining staff to interview for new positions to be defined and posted or lose their jobs as soon as February 3rd: http://www.sos.ga.gov/administration/personnel.asp For those that rely on Corporations, Licensing or Elections systems during this election season for constitutional officers like the Governor and the Secretary of State, hold onto your boots…

atl_man December 19, 2013 at 3:12 pm

Oh well, the hits keep on coming …

Dave Bearse December 21, 2013 at 1:38 pm

A decrease in the rate by itself is good news, but relatively speaking, the news continues to be dismal. Georgia unemployment has gone from 25th highest in 2007, to 40th now.

Georgia has gone from the high 20′s in per capita income throughout the 1990′s, to 33 in 2007, and 40th in 2012: http://bber.unm.edu/econ/us-pci.htm Georgia’s poverty ranking increased from 13 in 2008 to 6 in 2012.

Continued cuts to education funding, tax cuts, and making the state business friendly are producing results.

.

Harry December 21, 2013 at 9:24 pm

Changing demographics are producing results.

benevolus December 22, 2013 at 1:11 pm

Can you elaborate on that?

saltycracker December 22, 2013 at 1:31 pm

For sure Harry means the seniors, housewives and all those stay at home on insurance young folks. I think the biggest growth group are the looters.

“Typically “working-age persons” is defined as people between the ages of 16-64. People in those age groups who are not counted as participating in the labor force are typically students, homemakers, and persons under the age of 64 who are retired. In the United States the labor force participation rate is usually around 67-68%.”

Harry December 22, 2013 at 3:02 pm

As was mentioned in a parallel post, the white population in Georgia is being supplanted more and more by blacks and Mexicans. Now, they are God’s children and you can argue that they will improve the state (depending on one’s politics), but the reality is they are a lower income producing cohort.

benevolus December 22, 2013 at 8:37 pm

Lower income maybe, but why? Not because of education cuts, tax cuts, and a business friendly environment?

Harry December 22, 2013 at 8:53 pm

No maybe about it.

benevolus December 23, 2013 at 12:06 pm

OK, but I think the point is that the policies are creating the demographic. You seem to think it is something else.

Bill Dawers December 23, 2013 at 1:50 pm

Latinos have a higher labor force participation rate than either whites or blacks.

Also, the quote above about the “usual” participation rate is incorrect. The rate first hit 67% in 1997 and stayed above that — barely — for less than 5 years. It’s been falling steadily for 12 years. A graph: http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2013/12/november-employment-report-203000-jobs.html

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