After a decade of expansion, the metro Atlanta economy is still growing. Last month, the region added 14,400 jobs. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Photo: Elise Amendola
Photo: Elise Amendola

Metro Atlanta’s 2.6% jobless rate in November matched record low

The unemployment rate for Metro Atlanta last month dropped to 2.6%, as low as the rate has been since the government started keeping track in 1976, the Georgia Labor Department said Thursday.

The jobless rate for the region improved from an already-low 2.9% in October to equal the all-time lows set in late 2000 at the end of the tech and telecom boom.

“This November we had great job numbers across the board,” said Mark Butler, the state’s labor commissioner.

Last week, the government reported that the state’s unemployment rate had fallen to an all-time low of 3.3%. All fourteen of Georgia’s metro areas saw their jobless rates dip.

But Atlanta is by far the largest factor, accounting for 62% of Georgia jobs.

In the past 12 months, metro Atlanta has added 61,200 jobs, extending a record-long expansion. Since the end of the recession, the Atlanta economy has added 652,000 jobs.

While the nation’s trade wars may have recently dampened hiring at some large, international companies, there’s no sign of a pullback: The number of new claims for unemployment insurance – which parallel layoffs – is down 57% from the same month a year ago, the labor department reported.

Atlanta growth over the past year has continued for blue-collar positions in health care, hospitality and construction.

Tech jobs – seen as key to raising both productivity and better standards of living – have also been growing.

Among those hiring is Bark, a four-year-old company, said Titania Jordan, chief marketing officer.

The Atlanta-based company’s technology monitors children’s online activities and can alert parents or schools if there’s brewing trouble, like cyber bullying, predatory behavior, potential acts of violence or self-harm. Parents subscribe to the service, but Bark offers it free to schools.

Bark has 44 full-time employees and 50 part-timers and expects to add 15 or 20 employees during the next year, Jordan said.

The hardest part in hiring is not finding the talent, but finding talented people who fit well in Bark’s culture, she said. Atlanta, for all its talent, has a relatively small pool of consumer-oriented young companies.

“To find people who fit in the start-up culture, that is the challenge,” Jordan said.

The decade-long expansion is now the longest in U.S. economic history, and last year’s fears about a trade-induced downturn now seem overblown, said Aaron Daugherty, small business banker manager at Bank of America.

Most job growth has been among the younger, smaller companies and a recent survey of the bank’s clients showed an upbeat outlook, he said. “I found it refreshing to see the number – the optimism in Atlanta is real. It’s evident to everybody that Atlanta is steadily growing.”

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