Georgia jobless rate ticks down despite weak hiring

Browns Mill Elementary representatives talk with a candidate during interviews for teaching positions in July. KENT D. JOHNSON / AJC
Caption
Browns Mill Elementary representatives talk with a candidate during interviews for teaching positions in July. KENT D. JOHNSON / AJC

The Georgia unemployment rate dipped in July, but so did hiring as the economy continued several months of stop-and-go.

After a very strong June, the state’s economy lost 14,500 jobs last month. But the jobless rate, calculated from a different survey, edged down from 4.8 percent to 4.7 percent, the state Labor Department said Thursday.

The unemployment rate was 5.3 percent a year ago. The Georgia economy has added more than 100,000 jobs since then.

The last few months, though, have seen a sort of speed-up-then-hit-the-brake mode.

Georgia job growth was strong in February and March, weak in April and May and fast in June, and now July has seen another slowdown.

Yet the overall trend is positive. The unemployment rate is now back to levels last seen in mid-2007, before the Great Recession.

Mark Butler, the state labor commissioner said the July numbers need to be seen in context.

“Due to the fact that a lot of summer jobs are held by students, it’s not surprising to see the July decline in jobs, especially with the earlier school start dates this year,” he said.

Yet the state had not lost jobs in July since 2012. It averaged a gain of 7,000 jobs for the month over the previous five years.

Over the past year, Georgia has seen job growth in most sectors, but not all. Sectors with expansion include professional and business services, 29,800 jobs; leisure and hospitality, 23,300; trade, transportation and warehousing, 15,100; education and health services, 14,100; financial activities, 8,000; government, 5,100; and information services, 1,400.

But there were job losses in two key blue-collar sectors: Manufacturing dropped 3,000 jobs and construction shed 1,700.

Georgia's unemployment rate is still above the U.S. rate jobless rate of 4.3 percent. The Georgia rate has been higher than the national rate since 2007, but job growth has been more rapid in Georgia than nationally.

The state’s labor market economy has grown for seven years. During that time, the jobless rate has fallen from double digits and the number of officially unemployed has likewise been cut in half.

Still, about 240,000 Georgians are jobless and looking for work. Nearly one-third have been looking for more than six months.


Georgia job gains or losses/unemployment rates in July

2007: -4,700/4.6%

2008: -17,200/6.3%

2009: -20,400/10.3%

2010: 3,800/10.2%

2011: 6,500/10.1%

2012: -4,200/9.0%

2013: 7,300/8.0%

2014: 16,900/7.1%

2015: 4,900/5.7%

2016: 10,200/5.3%

2017: -14,100/4.7%

Source: Georgia Department of Labor

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