Georgia’s unemployment rate inches up in September

March 30, 2020 Atlanta: Nalim Nunes has the ticket area of Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson's international terminal to herself while waiting on her Delta Air Lines flight home to Brazil on Monday, March 30, 2020, in Atlanta. Nunes is a hospitality worker at a Charleston hotel and decided to return home after her job was lost during the coronavirus.    Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com
March 30, 2020 Atlanta: Nalim Nunes has the ticket area of Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson's international terminal to herself while waiting on her Delta Air Lines flight home to Brazil on Monday, March 30, 2020, in Atlanta. Nunes is a hospitality worker at a Charleston hotel and decided to return home after her job was lost during the coronavirus. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton

Credit: Curtis Compton

Metro Atlanta has 202,149 people officially unemployed, almost twice as many as a year ago, according to data released Thursday by the state Department of Labor.

At the same time, it has about 100,000 job openings.

The region added 15,100 jobs in September, but unemployment stood at 6.7%, up from 6.4% in August. In the past seven months, more than 1.4 million Georgians have received unemployment benefits.

Hiring has been strongest in home improvement stores, ecommerce and technology.

Among those hiring is 1Path, an Atlanta-based, technology service company. It is adding “dozens” of technicians, especially in a division that does security system installation and maintenance, according to a spokesperson.

But even as many firms hire, others are still cutting.

Statewide last week, 44,892 jobless claims were processed, down 9,274 from the previous week. For months, many jobless Georgians complained of long waits to receive unemployment benefits, but state labor Commissioner Mark Butler said the time it takes to process and pay claims has been dramatically cut.

The number of claims are down from the peaks in the spring, but is still higher than any pre-pandemic week, a sign of continued trouble in some economic sectors.

The Hyatt Regency recently filed notice with the Department of Labor that it is laying off 267 workers. Crown Plaza filed notice that it is cutting more than 120 jobs.

Some company problems are caused by drops in consumer spending – like the plunge in travel. But there also have been a slew of company failures because of a change in creditor attitude, said Jim Swift, chief executive of Cortera, which tracks business spending.

For the first few months of the pandemic, many companies accepted late or partial payments from businesses that were struggling. But that has changed over the past several months, he said.

“Suppliers are not tolerating slow payments,” he said. “You see them saying, ‘No, I’m just going to focus on my strong customers.’ So it’s a little like survival of the fittest.”

Metro Atlanta economy

Jobs, lost or added

January: -41,400

February.: 3,500

March: -10,700

April: -307,900

May: 52,800

June: 87,600

July: 14,100

August: 32,600

September: 15,100

New jobless claims

September, 2019: 8,089

August, 2020: 151,491

September, 2020: 120,299

Labor force

February: 3,139,975

April: 2,930,563

August: 2,966,836

Sources: Georgia Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics

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