The jobless rate dropped to 4.5% from 4.8% in February. That’s higher than the pre-pandemic level, but far below the double-digit rates of a year ago.
While the economy still has about 180,500 fewer jobs than before the pandemic began, 223,000 positions are listed on the state’s jobs site — triple the number of a year ago, said state Labor Commissioner Mark Butler.
Still, the state processed 38,382 new jobless claims last week, up 4,759 from the previous week, he said.
Nationally, the number of initial claims fell.
Accommodation and food services accounted for about one-third of the new claims in Georgia, where more than 4.6 million claims have been processed since the pandemic’s start.
With more and more people getting vaccinated, “economic activity should pick up over the course of 2021,” said Abbey Omodunbi, senior economist at PNC Financial Services Group.
But, for right now, many still face challenges.
Marquist Rhodes, 43, made his living as a full-time Lyft driver until the pandemic. He still drives some days, but the pickings are slim. He depends on unemployment benefits to pay his family’s rent.
He’s optimistic that riders will come back to Lyft soon. “I think it’s still going to take having more people trust enough to get out there,” he said.
Economists agree: Attitude is crucial to recovery. The health of the economy is dependent on people feeling that the spread of the virus is contained.
When all schools are reopened, many parents will be free to take jobs that require them to be in offices and shops, said Daniel Zhao, senior economist for Glassdoor, a jobs listing, ratings and research site. And, as more people are vaccinated, more consumers will venture out.
“The most important economic stimulus is getting the pandemic under control,” Zhao said.
Unemployment rate, Georgia
Sources: Georgia Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics