Georgia job growth solid in August, adding 12,000 to the workforce

Credit: NYT

Credit: NYT

The Georgia economy added a solid 12,000 jobs last month, but the pace of growth has continued to slow, the state Department of Labor reported Thursday.

With hospitality, office jobs and manufacturing leading the way, the state’s economy has grown by 95,700 jobs in the past year against the headwinds of rising interest rates, the result of the Federal Reserve’s efforts to tame inflation by slowing the economy.

“Georgia’s labor market continues to demonstrate remarkable resilience and strength,” said Commissioner Bruce Thompson.

The sectors with the most gains last month were accommodation and food services, administrative and support services and manufacturing, he said.

The number of Georgia jobs has increased more than 17% since the bottom of the pandemic-triggered closures. The state now has 248,000 more jobs than before the pandemic.

“Population growth continues to be a key driver of Georgia’s economic success,” Wells Fargo economists wrote in a newsletter Thursday. “A more affordable cost of living and ample job opportunities are attracting new residents to the state.”

Manufacturing tied to electric vehicles is part of that pull, the economists wrote.

The state’s online job sites listed more than 112,000 positions, he said, a sign that in many sectors — especially healthcare — jobseekers have the upper hand with many choices.

But the number of listings has declined and there are other hints that the labor market is growing tighter.

The number of Georgia jobs is up 2% in a year, compared to year-over-year growth of 3.6% in January.

The unemployment rate last month, while still historically low, ticked up to 3.3% from 3.2% in July. That calculation — which includes anyone without work who is actively job-seeking — rose as the number of people in the workforce swelled faster than employers hired.

The labor force, everyone either working or job-hunting, expanded by 12,439 during the month, nearly double the month’s average growth.

People tend to flow back into the workforce when they think jobs are plentiful, but also when they need a paycheck. And while inflation is far lower than a year ago and some workers have seen healthy pay hikes, the rising use of credit cards signals that others are finding it harder to make ends meet.

With hiring showing surprising strength the past few months, economists have said the chances for a “soft landing” have improved, with inflation down and job growth declining to near zero, then taking off again. But with consumer debt rising and many companies cautious, recession is not off the table.

Wells Fargo economists say they expect a mild downturn early next year.

But with the Fed debating whether to raise rates still further, hiring is expected to continue, if only because some expansions are already in the pipeline. Recent job announcements from the state economic development officials include:

-- CJ Foodville Corp. will invest more than $47 million in a new bakery and food processing facility in Gainesville, creating an estimated 285 jobs.

-- DAS Corp. will add 300 jobs at a new manufacturing facility in Metter to make auto parts.

-- Pratt Industries, a recycled paper and packaging company, will invest $120 million to build a new production facility in Warner Robins that will add 125 jobs.

Georgia jobs, August

Best, pre-pandemic: 16,500 (2005)

Worst, pre-pandemic: -13,700 (2009)

Average, pre-pandemic: 4,600

Recent: 12,000 (August)

Year’s first eight months

Best, pre-pandemic: 95,000 (2014)

Worst, pre-pandemic: -165,900 (2009)

Average, pre-pandemic: 28,600

Recent: 62,900 (2023)

Unemployment rate, August

Best, pre-pandemic: 3.5% (2019)

Worst, pre-pandemic: 10.8% (2019)

Average, pre-pandemic: 6.0%

Recent: 3.3% (2023)

Sources: Georgia Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics