Six facts to know about Atlanta’s falling jobless rate

Six things to know about Atlanta’s jobless rate…

The metro Atlanta unemployment rate dropped to 4.8 percent last month, down from 5.2 percent in March and 5.4 percent unemployment a year ago.

It is the lowest jobless rate for Atlanta since November 2007, just before the recession began.

Here’s what is going on:

1. Employers were hiring at a good clip.

Roughly 21,500 jobs were added during the month, better than the average April growth and far better than the national rate of growth.

During the previous six Aprils after the recession ended, metro Atlanta gained an average of 17,900 jobs. The best April metro Atlanta ever had was 2006, when the economy added 30,700 jobs.

2. The Atlanta jobless rate usually goes down in April – and this year it fell almost exactly the average amount.

But there are still about 150,000 people in the region who are unemployed and searching for work, even if that is way down from the quarter of a million jobless during the worst of the recession. And that pool of job-seekers is heavier than usual with older workers: If you are laid off when you are 55 or older, you have a harder time finding a job than those who are younger.

3. There’s been some concern that a lot of recent job growth has been among low-paying jobs, and that continues in April: the strongest growth was in the low-paying leisure and hospitality sector.

Still, nearly every sector grew during the month: retail, transportation and warehousing, the corporate sector, manufacturing and construction.

Payrolls were flat in education and healthcare.

Only government employment decreased.

4. Employers laid off fewer people.

Cuts were down about 11 percent in April compared to the same month of 2015, based on new claims for unemployment insurance.

New claims were also slightly down from March.

5. The math was a little deceptive.

The unemployment rate only counts the labor force – people who are either working or looking for work. And the labor force has decreased slightly from last month. That means the job market was not quite as good the unemployment rate indicated.

6. But what matters more than a month of data is the long term, right? And the longer arc of the economy looks pretty darned good. During the past year, metro Atlanta has added 83,300 jobs. That growth represents nearly 60 percent of the jobs added in Georgia.

Now we can worry about other things. Like whether people’s pay is rising fast enough to cover housing and rental costs. And whether growth will just make Atlanta’s traffic much worse.