Metro Atlanta posts strong job growth, low unemployment

Metro Atlanta powered the state’s hiring surge last month, adding 34,100 jobs that propelled Georgia’s economy to one of the strongest Februaries ever.

“We saw gains in jobs, labor force and the number of employed,” said Mark Butler, the state’s labor commissioner.

Last week, the Georgia Department of Labor said that the state recorded its second-highest job growth ever in February. Thursday’s report showed why: The Atlanta area added jobs at three times the pace of its pre-pandemic average.

Atlanta, which has 62% of the jobs in the state, accounted for 84% of the new positions.

Some of the gains were in hospitality and other industries that were decimated early in the pandemic. But much of the hiring came in sectors that were much less damaged, as companies continued to fill corporate positions and tech jobs, Butler said.

Hiring in the white-collar world has fueled demand for some services, especially those performed around the house.

MaidPro, a Boston-based chain of home cleaning businesses, is set to open its fourth Atlanta-area franchise Friday.

“We have seen solid growth,” said company president Tom Manchester. But, he added, “Trying to find hourly employees has been a challenge.”

The company is trying to lure workers from other industries, especially retailing and restaurants, Manchester said.

Roughly 29,000 people joined the workforce in February as the metro Atlanta unemployment rate dropped from 3.3% in January to 3.2%. That’s the lowest level since the tail-end of the 1990s boom, when unemployment fell to 2.6%.

Though gas and grocery prices are up, there has been no sign that inflation is slowing the state’s economic momentum, said Kim Wallace, chief growth officer for Duluth-based Hire Dynamics, which places thousands of workers in jobs around the Southeast.

Jane Oates —president of WorkingNation, a nonprofit group that analyzes workforce trends — said the job growth should continue. “Atlanta is particularly well poised to benefit from its high performing colleges and universities,” she said.

Employers have adapted to the higher costs, absorbing some of it and passing some along. Businesses are also looking for ways to be more efficient, whether through encouraging carpooling or offering remote work.

“Companies have to reevaluate how to handle jobs where there’s a car or a gas allowance,” Wallace said. “But there really hasn’t been any slowdown in hiring.”

Statewide, there were 4,026 initial claims for jobless benefits last week, according to the DOL. That is below the pre-pandemic average, an indication that relatively few employees are being laid-off.


Metro Atlanta job growth in February

Average pre-pandemic: 11,700 (2001-2020)

Recent: 34,100 (2022)

Most: 35,400 (2011)

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Metro Atlanta unemployment rate

Recent: 3.2% (February 2022)

Highest: 12.6% (April 2020)

Highest, pre-pandemic: 11.1% (June 2009)

Lowest: 2.6% (December 2000)

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Atlanta looms large in Georgia

Share of state’s jobs*, February 2022: 61.9%

Share of state’s job growth*, February 2022: 84.2%

*Not adjusted for seasonal variations

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Georgia Department of Labor, St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank

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