Job growth continued in metro Atlanta last month, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

Thomas and Christina Harbin

Photo: � 2019 Cox Media Group.
Photo: � 2019 Cox Media Group.

Atlanta job growth solid, but unemployment rate jumps

Metro Atlanta’s economy had a solid June, adding a better-than-average 7,600 jobs during the month, according to a report Thursday from the Georgia Department of Labor.

That hiring was a bounce-back from the region’s somewhat disappointing May, a sign that the record-long economic expansion hasn’t yet run out of steam.

The job growth came despite an increase in the unemployment rate, which was fed by a surprisingly large flow of people into the job market.

“June was a very strong month for Georgia,” Mark Butler, the state’s labor commissioner, said in a statement. “Our local communities continue to prosper.”

Metro Atlanta has added 53,500 jobs in the past 12 months. While that is a more modest pace than during the previous five years, it was still the lion’s share of the hiring in the state of Georgia.

No other metro area has produced even a tenth of the jobs added in Atlanta. During the past 12 months, Gainesville added 4,600 jobs, Savannah grew by 3,500 and Augusta by 3,100.

Metro Atlanta’s unemployment rate rose from 3.3% in May to 3.7% in June as the number of people seeking work rose by 19,430 people, the largest increase in a June since 2007.

The jump came even though the number of new jobless claims – generally seen as an indication of layoffs – declined 8% from May. June claims were 16% below those of June 2018, the labor department said.

That suggests the unemployment rate increase was tied to two factors indicating a healthy economy: new arrivals to the region and more non-working residents resuming the search for jobs.

Even so, the unemployment rate is still the lowest it has been in a June since 2001. The June rate is typically higher than May because new graduates enter the job market after school lets out. Some employees, including at factories, also are laid off or furloughed for the summer.

Spencer Reid, president of Atlanta-based Cinnaholic, a chain of vegan bakeries, said the company thus far has rosy signs, both from entrepreneurs wanting to invest in franchises and from consumers with money to spend.

The company has 38 shops around the country, including one in Atlanta and one in Athens. Cinnaholic has plans to open about a dozen more bakeries this year, including three in metro Atlanta, with each new shop hiring 15 or more people, he said.

“In Atlanta, the job market seems great, and we are finding great people,” Reid said.

Atlanta’s growth has not been even, but several sectors have led the way.

During the past year, the construction sector has grown to about 135,000 jobs, expanding at a 6.3% clip. Corporate jobs have grown 3.7%, and the education and health sector has grown at a 3.1% pace.

In contrast, manufacturing’s expansion in that time has been just 1.1%. And, while metro Atlanta is not generally thought of as a goods-producing zone, the sector still amounts to about 175,000 jobs.

Plethora this spring opened a 57,000-square-foot factory in Marietta, mainly making prototype parts for companies in aerospace, defense and medical devices, said Jim Quinn, company chief executive.

The company has about 30 workers in a range of roles and expects to have more than 50 by year’s end, he said.

Trade tussles have U.S. companies concerned about depending too much on foreign factories, he said. “Our customers worry about the added cost of the tariffs. So we’ve become more and more competitive with China.”

Perhaps more critical, Quinn said, Georgia offers advantages such as easy transit via road, rail and air; skilled workers; and proximity to the research of Georgia Tech.

A GOOD JOB MARKET CAN HELP PEOPLE WHO TYPICALLY HAVE TROUBLE FINDING WORK. LIKE EX-OFFENDERS

June job growth, metro Atlanta 

Best: 17,200 (1999)

Worst: -18,200 (2009)

Recent: 7,600 (2019)

Metro Atlanta unemployment rate in June 

2009: 10.6%

2010: 10.3%

2011: 10.5%

2012: 9.3%

2013: 8.4%

2014: 7.2%

2015: 6.1%

2016: 5.4%

2017: 4.8%

2018: 4.2%

2019: 3.7%

Sources: Georgia Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics

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