Hartsfield-Jackson generates billions in economic activity in region

Travelers make their way through the security check point at Hartsfield-Jackson. JOHN SPINK/JSPINK@AJC.COM

Travelers make their way through the security check point at Hartsfield-Jackson. JOHN SPINK/JSPINK@AJC.COM

A new report released by the world's busiest airport touted an $82 billion economic impact for Hartsfield-Jackson International and said more than 63,000 people have jobs at the facility.

Those workers include airport employees, concessions workers, airline customer service agents, flight attendants and pilots, contractors and others based at the airport — making it the largest job center in the state, according to the report.

A large share of airport workers lives in Fulton County — 18,245 people, or 28.8 percent of the workforce. Most others reside in DeKalb, Clayton and other parts of the metro Atlanta region. About 11 percent live out-of-state — which would include airline crews based in Atlanta who commute to work by plane.

The last airport economic impact report issued in 2014 showed a 9 percent increase in the number of jobs based at the airport over a four-year period. The new report showed the number of workers at Hartsfield-Jackson 63,329 was little changed compared with the previous total of 63,291 workers.

According to Hartsfield-Jackson, the average income for an airport-based job is $71,500. Such averages can be driven up by high numbers at the top end, such as executive and pilot salaries.

The Atlanta airport commissions an economic impact study roughly every five years to demonstrate its role in driving economic activity in the Southeast.

The report released this month by the airport is based on fiscal year 2017 data.

Hartsfield-Jackson general manager John Selden said in the report that the airport "continues to serve as the prime economic engine for the entire Southeast region." The study looked at the Piedmont Atlantic Mega-region, which includes 355 counties in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida.

Selden called the airport’s role as an economic generator “its highest calling.”

Looking at all of the jobs linked to economic activity generated by the airport, the report said, Hartsfield-Jackson supports more than 448,000 jobs in the Southeast, or 20 percent of the jobs in the region.

That includes everyone from airline and cargo company employees at the airport to maintenance contractor workers. The report counted, as part of the airport's economic impact, visitor spending and the "induced" impact, including workers at grocery stores where aviation industry employees shop.

Air cargo is one of the big drivers of economic activity, supporting about 103,600 jobs, the report said.

Most of the airport-driven economic activity is generated in the metro Atlanta area with $51.6 billion of economic impact, while $15.2 billion occurs in the rest of Georgia. Another $15.7 billion is spread across other parts of the Southeast.