Atlanta adds jobs in February, cutting unemployment

While uncomfortable, you should break the news to your boss face to face so that you’re perceived as being professional. fizkes/Shutterstock
While uncomfortable, you should break the news to your boss face to face so that you’re perceived as being professional. fizkes/Shutterstock

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

Economists say widespread vaccinations and the massive federal pandemic relief package have sparked increased hiring in Georgia, where the unemployment rate dipped below the national average once again in February.

As Atlanta added 8,700 jobs, the unemployment rate in February dropped to 4.5% from 5.1% in January.

That was below the national average of 6.2%.

“The state is getting back to where it was prior to the pandemic,” said Mark Butler, Georgia’s labor commissioner. “We are seeing the momentum start to switch in our favor.”

Still, there’s a long way to go: Metro Atlanta in February had about 161,600 fewer jobs than a year earlier.

In Georgia, the state last week processed 39,281 new jobless claims, roughly 14,000 more than the week before and seven times higher than the pre-pandemic average. As has been the case since the pandemic’s start, the lion’s share of claims were from people working in food and accommodation.

Since the start of the pandemic, the department has processed nearly 4.6 million initial claims. More than 400,000 Georgians are currently receiving benefits.

Nationally, “the labor market remains strained,” wrote Sarah House, Wells Fargo senior economist, via email. “But the economy is gearing up for growth: “We look for a substantial rebound in hiring over the next few months.”

Signs are upbeat. Around the country, new filings for unemployment benefits last week were below 1 million for the second consecutive week, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

When the department releases its jobs report for March on Friday, it will likely show the addition of about 675,000 jobs, said House.

Georgia’s online job site has more than 228,000 listings, according to the state Department of Labor. And there have been several recent announcements of hiring.

Feit Electric last week said it is opening a distribution center in McDonough and will be hiring 120 people. Allied Universal is hiring more than 50 security guards in LaGrange.

And, in Fairburn, Porex, which makes porous plastics, has gone to round-the-clock shifts
and is hiring about 20 people, including technicians, inspectors and mechanics, according to a spokeswoman. The company, which will hold in-person interviews Tuesday afternoons, has raised its starting wage to $18.37 an hour to attract workers.

Weekly jobless claims, Georgia

Worst, pre-pandemic: 41,522 (Jan. 10, 2010)

Highest, pandemic: 390,132 (April 4, 2020)

Average, pre-pandemic: 5,548

Average, last four weeks: 25,877

Last week: 39,281

Total since Mar. 21: 4.6 million

Unemployment rate, metro Atlanta

February 2020: 3.3%

January 2021: 5.1%

February 2021: 4.5%

Jobs added or lost, metro Atlanta

2020

March: -14,200

April: -367,300

May: 74,800

June: 63,900

July: 3,800

August: 39,900

September: 7,200

October: 29,100

November: 18,100

December: 18,000

2021

January: -44,000

February: 8,700

Sources: Georgia Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration

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