Among the positions being filled, she said, are loan officers, underwriters, loan processors and customer service jobs for offices in Buckhead and Alpharetta. That’s a sign that the housing market in Atlanta is still strong.
But, in large swaths of the economy, the continued spread of the coronavirus is chilling consumer spending, Wald said. “The bad news is that, even with the reopenings, you still have over 600,000 people in Georgia receiving unemployment benefits. That is more than the populations of Augusta, Columbus, Savannah and Albany combined.”
Meanwhile, those who lost work because of the pandemic are no longer receiving an extra $600 a week from the federal government. A bitterly divided Congress has thus far been unable to reach a compromise on a new aid package.
Other data shows the economy’s reopening as far from complete.
In late July, Georgians were working 21% fewer hours than they were in late February, while in Metro Atlanta, hours worked were down 26%, said Andrew Vogeley, product manager at Homebase, which sells a scheduling and time tracking tool.
Things looked better a month ago, he said.
In mid-June, more people were working more hours, Vogeley said. “Both Georgia and Atlanta are down from mid-June peaks. Atlanta had been outpacing the rest of the country, but now is lagging it.”
Nationally, the U.S. Department of Labor reported 1.4 million initial jobless claims filed, an increase of 12,000 from the previous week.
Swamped by the unprecedented flood of claims, Georgia’s Department of Labor fell far behind. Many who are unemployed have waited months for their benefits to be paid. But, after slow improvement, the state has now made payments to 92% of the claims deemed valid, said Mark Butler, the state’s labor commissioner.
The state Department of Labor has struggled for months with an unprecedented wave of layoffs plus he need to implement new federal programs. Mark Butler, Georgia's labor commissioner, says the latest proposals to unemployment benefits will make a tough situation even tougher.
With the unprecedented level of unemployment claims, money for paying the benefit is running low. The balance in the state’s unemployment insurance fund is now less than 25% of the $2.5 billion it held as the crisis began.
Should that fund be depleted, Georgia would need to borrow from the U.S. Treasury to make payments.
Many of the claims have come from those who lost jobs in hotels, food services, health care and social assistance, retail, administrative services and manufacturing, the Department of Labor said.
Many of those jobs were lower-paid.
According to the Census Bureau, more than 50% of adults who make $75,000 or less annually have lost income during the pandemic. For those whose pay was $25,000 or less, at least 60% have lost income.
“This recession is having a horrible impact on people who are the least capable of coping with that impact,” said Mike Alexander, director of the Center for Livable Communities at the Atlanta Regional Commission.
New jobless claims in Georgia
June 6: 135,254
June 13: 131,997
June 20: 125,725
June 27: 117,485
July 4: 105,160
July 11: 138,452
July 18: 122,313
July 25: 84,984
Sources: U.S. Employment and Training Administration, Georgia Department of Labor