Georgia jobless rate dips below U.S. average

Many are applauding the influx of jobs in the area.

Georgia's economy added 12,000 jobs last month as the state unemployment rate ticked down below the national average for the first time in more than a decade, according to a report Thursday from the state Department of Labor.

The jobless rate dipped from 3.9 percent in July to 3.8 percent in August — a sign that, even if the U.S. trade battle with China is dominating business headlines, it has not yet damaged the economy of Georgia.

There are now nearly 5 million employed people in the state.

"We have been employing new workers as fast as we have been adding them," said Mark Butler, state labor commissioner. "These numbers show how dynamic our economy has been and continues to be."

Georgia for decades enjoyed a consistently lower jobless rate than the national average. But much of the growth here had been driven by housing. So, when that construction boom went bust, Georgia was hurt much more than most places.

In July 2007, Georgia’s jobless rate was 4.5 percent, and the U.S. rate was 4.7 percent. But by October of that year, Georgia’s unemployment rate — at 4.8 — had risen above the nation’s, which was 4.7.

It has tracked above the national average since then. Until now.

So long as a trade war doesn't interfere, the holiday hiring outlook is bright, even if most of those jobs are in slots that will pay well below the median wage, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., a national placement firm that tracks layoffs and hiring.

Target, for example, recently announced plans to hire 120,000 workers for the holiday season – 20 percent more than last year, said Andrew Challenger, vice president at the firm. "Retail, transport, and warehousing jobs will be plentiful."

A surge in hiring could draw some of those people back into the workforce, said Challenger. “This holiday season will be a good time for workers who have had trouble finding employment or those who are discouraged or marginally attached to the labor force.”

The number of unemployed workers in Georgia slipped below 200,000 last month, the Labor Department said. That is the lowest it has been since before the Great Recession. But that number does not include those who have stopped looking for work.

Some professional positions are also poised for growth, according to CareerCast, a California-based, Internet jobs search firm. For example, among those in demand this fall are accountants.

Also in demand, CareerCast said, are "logisticians," who analyze and coordinate the movement of goods through ports, warehouses and distribution centers.

How the year, so far, stacks up

Georgia jobs added from January to August

2011: 34,900

2012: 36,600

2013: 56,500

2014: 96,300

2015: 66,200

2016: 62,800

2017: 42,400

2018: 61,300

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Georgia Department of Labor

How the month stacks up

Georgia jobs added in August

2011: 4,000

2012: 3,300

2013: 7,500

2014: 13,400

2015: 12,500

2016: 7,000

2017: 11,000

2018: 12,000

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Georgia Department of Labor

Unemployment rate, August 2018

Georgia: 3.8 percent

United States: 3.9 percent

Unemployment rate, August 2010

Georgia: 10.4 percent

United States: 9.5 percent

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Georgia Department of Labor