“I think Georgia is in a much better position than the rest of the country,” said economist Jason Delaney of Georgia Gwinnett College. “It’s bad everywhere, but it’s less bad here.”
Deterioration in other parts of the country is tied to rising cases of coronavirus, he said. “Every economist out there will agree. If you want to fix the economy, you’ve got to fix the virus.”
More than 4 million jobless claims have been processed in the state since the crisis began in mid-March, nearly half of them judged to be valid.
The number of claims filed last week, while more than three times as high as the average pre-pandemic week, is dramatically lower than the stratospheric levels of the spring.
New claims are typically filed by workers who have just lost their jobs. While not all workers file claims and some workers are not eligible for unemployment benefits, the number of claims is considered a good indicator for the pace at which employers are letting workers go.
While there are more than 300,000 people officially unemployed in the state, that does not include people who have stopped looking for jobs — a group that typically grows when employment is hard to find.
The number of job openings has been climbing. Currently, there are about 160,000 jobs listed online at EmployGeorgia, according to the Department of Labor.
But relatively few listings are in the sectors that lost the most — those that rely on interpersonal contact, a sign that many customers are concerned about safety and still shying away from those situations, Delaney said. “What if you are a wedding planner? You can’t make people get married.”
New jobless claims, Georgia
Oct. 10: 54,166
Oct. 17: 44,892
Oct. 24: 43,695
Oct. 31: 37,253
Nov. 7: 23,827
Nov. 14: 19,626
Trajectory of new jobless claims, Georgia
Worst week, pre-pandemic: 41,522 (Jan. 10, 2009)
Worst week, during pandemic: 390,132 (April 4, 2020)
Average week, Feb. 2019 to Feb. 2020: 5,548
Average, last four weeks: 31,100
Total, since March 21: 4,038,089
Sources: Georgia Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration