June unemployment up in metro Atlanta; strong hiring can’t keep up with numbers looking for jobs 

The metro Atlanta unemployment rate rose in June to 4.9 percent from 4.5 percent in May, the state Labor Department reported Thursday. 

But that much-watched number may be somewhat misleading: June is often a month for job loss and the economy added more jobs last month than in any June since the year 2000. 

It’s just that the steady pace of hiring couldn’t make up for the tide of jobseekers. There were thousands of new graduates entering the workforce and thousands of school employees getting their annual, summer pink slips. 

So the result was a higher unemployment rate.

Metro Atlanta added 14,100 jobs during the month, roughly ten times as many new positions as during the same month last year. Leading the charge were jobs in the corporate sector, as well as typically lower paid jobs in leisure and hospitality.

A week ago, the Labor Department reported strong job growth in the state.  

Halfway through 2017, the economic engine in metro Atlanta has been running a little erratically, but the overall trend is very positive. 

Year to date, the economy has added 24,000 jobs. That is more than during the past two years. Except for 2014, it is the best first-half performance since 1999.

After seven years of job growth, the metro jobless rate has fallen back into a relatively healthy zone. Coming out of the recession, the unemployment rate hovered in double digits for several years. 

By June of 2016, it had slid to 5.3 percent. The unemployment now is similar to that of the period before Dec. 2007, the month that the Great Recession began. 


STORY AND SHORT VIDEO: What’s going on with unemployment and hiring in Georgia.

Since hitting bottom in early 2010, the metro Atlanta economy has added about 523,300 jobs, the lion’s share of Georgia growth in that period.

Last week, the government reported that the state’s jobless rate had ticked down to 4.8 percent on strong job expansion.

The good news comes as the economy rebounds from a discouraging April

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Talk about the trajectory.

A year ago, the jobless rate for metro Atlanta was 5.3 percent. Six years ago, it was 10.5 percent. 

During the past 12 months, metro Atlanta has added 94,100 jobs. 

But analysts continue to wonder why such steady job growth has not also meant solid wage hikes

Talk about the year to date.

So far in 2017, the metro Atlanta economy has added 24,000 jobs. That is the strongest January to June of the past since 2014. Not counting that year, 2017 is off to the best start since 1999.

Talk about the equation.

Unemployment is a ratio -- unemployed job seekers as part of the total number of people either working or searching. And that labor force number rose nearly 17,000 during June.

Moreover, it is up 105,527 in the past year. And the vast majority have apparently found jobs.

Talk about people who are not getting hired.

Nearly 148,000 people in metro Atlanta are counted as unemployed – that is, they are out of work and also looking for a job. That is more than at the start of the recession, but compare it to seven years ago when the region started the year with 295,009 unemployed. 

On the other hand, roughly 30 percent of the jobless have been looking for more than six months.

Talk about layoffs.

Overall, the state has seen claims for unemployment benefits drop 6 percent in the past year. In Atlanta, it has edged down 2.9 percent. 

Talk about sector strength. 

According to the Labor Department, the sectors that grew included: corporate jobs, leisure and hospitality, financial services and manufacturing.

Talk about sector weakness.

According to the Labor Department, there were losses in construction, trade, transportation and utilities, and government.

It’s hard to see precisely, but it does look like Atlanta retail jobs are under pressure from automation, online ordering and what might have been overly enthusiastic expansion in the past.  


Metro Atlanta, June unemployment rate, percent

2007 4.6

2008 6.1

2009 10.6

2010 10.3

2011 10.5

2012 9.3

2013 8.5

2014 7.2

2015 6.1

2016 5.3

2017 4.9


Metro Atlanta, job change, June

2007 -6,200

2008 -15,100

2009 -18,500

2010 -9,100

2011 -11,300

2012 -2,500

2013 -1,700

2014 -1,700

2015 4,200

2016 1,400

2017 14,100

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Georgia Department of Labor 




AJC Business reporter Michael E. Kanell keeps you updated on the latest news about jobs, housing and consumer issues in metro Atlanta and beyond. You'll find more on myAJC.com, including these stories:

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 In other Business news:

The state added 27,000 jobs last month and now has nearly 4.5 million people employed, the highest number ever.

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