The news came out this morning that Georgia’s unemployment rate rose from an adjusted 7.7% in July to a preliminary rate of 8.1% in August. Democrats, as you might expect, pounced on this as further proof that the GOP has failed and Jason Carter must replace Nathan Deal (received via press release from the Carter campaign):
“This is disastrous news for families all across Georgia who are suffering the consequences of Gov. Deal’s failed policies,” Carter said. “On Gov. Deal’s watch, not only has Georgia gone through the slowest jobs recovery in the nation, we appear to be reversing course.
But are we really “reversing course” and have Governor Deal’s policies failed?
Looking at Department of Labor numbers (see link above), Georgia added 24,700 jobs in August and total employment now sits at 4,132,900, the most since June of 2008. Furthermore, initial unemployment claims for August were 31,122, down by 11,536 from July and down 4,381 from August 2013. Georgia’s total employment is up by 79,300 over last August(pdf).
Looking at data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of unemployed in July of 2013 was 396,238 and their preliminary data from July 2014 (the latest available) shows 370,391, a decrease of 6.5%.
If the number of people employed is going up and the number of unemployed is going down why is the unemployment rate increasing? I think one reason is people returning to the workforce. That has been an accepted explanation for slight increases in the national unemployment rate which have occurred from time to time, surely it is happening in Georgia as well.
Additionally, people continue to move to Georgia. The population of Georgia, according to the Census Bureau was 9,992,167 in 2013, up from 9,687,663 in April of 2010. That’s a 3.1% increase since the last census. Assuming a steady growth, we’ve been adding a little more that 1% to our state’s population each year. The 2014 census estimate will be released in December but it’s reasonable to expect it to show continued population growth – some of it at least from people moving here. People don’t move to a state where their life will be worse, they move for personal reasons, but also because they think opportunity awaits.
Would I love to see Georgia’s unemployment rate lower than the national average? Of course, but we are adding jobs, the number of unemployed is shrinking, people are rejoining the workforce, and new people are moving to our state. We’re not reversing course because of failed policies, things are headed in the right directing and we should roll up our sleeves, work hard and stay the course.