Report says Georgia’s economy is the least exposed to coronavirus. Why that may be changing

Just this week, a WalletHub report found Georgia to have the least vulnerable economy in the country but jobless numbers tell a different story

Local government leaders throughout Georgia struggle over which business operations should close down and remain open.

This week, a new report said that Georgia’s economy is the least exposed to coronavirus among states nationwide.

The study from personal finance website WalletHub looked at which states were the most vulnerable economically amid the coronavirus outbreak. And while it was seemed to tell a hopeful tale for Georgia, new numbers show that it may not reflect the entire picture.

The report compared states on 10 key metrics, which included:

  • Share of a state's GPD generated from "high-risk industries" including food service, arts and entertainment and retail
  • Share of employment in "high-risk industries"
  • Share of state's employment from small businesses
  • The initial increase in the number of unemployment insurance claims
  • Work from home infrastructure
  • Share of workers with access to paid sick leave

After crunching the numbers, WalletHub found that Georgia is the most prepared state for a digital economy, has among the lowest share of small business employment and had one of the lowest increases in the number of unemployment insurance rates.

The Peach State’s economy is overall the least exposed to coronavirus of any state in the nation.

However, the report may not tell the whole story. Here’s why:

Even though Georgia has been seeing an uptick in unemployment claims, just like states across the nation, the jumps in jobless rates had been less drastic than other states — especially at the time WalletHub compiled its findings.

Last week, officials said that 12,140 Georgians had filed for unemployment insurance the previous week.

But, officials were leery to say that reflected the full picture. Those were only the claims that had already been processed.

"Wait until next week's numbers to see if Georgia's jumps," Michael Wald, a former senior economist at the U.S. Department of Labor, told the AJC.

Experts also point to the fact that Georgia had been staying the course with “business as usual” longer than many other states, with workers still reporting to jobs that had already shuttered elsewhere in the country.

And this week, new unemployment numbers seemed to prove that Georgia was catching up to the rest of the nation.

In the latest data, the Georgia Department of Labor said it had 133,820 claims for unemployment benefits last week, according to AJC reporting.

Officials say the number is record setting — a staggering 1,102% increase week over week and a key indication that Georgia’s economy may very well be more exposed than once suspected.