Georgia started year with job growth, passes pre-pandemic high

Georgia's economy added 19,400 jobs in January, and is poised to keep growing. Several hundred thousand jobs are posted and open ithe state, according to Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. Whether soaring gas prices dampen that growth remains to be seen. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

Credit: AP

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Georgia's economy added 19,400 jobs in January, and is poised to keep growing. Several hundred thousand jobs are posted and open ithe state, according to Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. Whether soaring gas prices dampen that growth remains to be seen. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

Credit: AP

Georgia’s economy got off to a strong start in January, adding 19,400 jobs and hitting an all-time low in the unemployment rate, the Department of Labor announced Thursday.

The report showed the state maintained its economic momentum, despite the winter’s surge in COVID-19 cases. But that good news has been tempered by this: The data was collected weeks before the dramatic spike in energy prices triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

With January’s job growth, the state has finally surpassed its pre-pandemic level, 21 months after devastating jobs losses in the spring of 2020.

In the past 12 months, the state has added 216,000 jobs.

During January, the state’s unemployment rate dropped from 3.3% in December to 3.2%, said Mark Butler, the state’s labor commissioner. Previously, the lowest unemployment rate was recorded at the tail end of the 1990s boom, when joblessness dipped to 3.4%.

Official unemployment numbers include only residents who are actively seeking jobs. The number of people who are unemployed is at its lowest point since July 2001, Butler said.

January’s dropping unemployment rate came despite growth in the labor force, which was up nearly 17,000 people.

The most hiring in January came in the professional, scientific and technical services, which added 4,700 jobs. But hospitality continued its long recovery, as well, adding 2,800 positions.

Georgia has been among the states with the highest rate of employees quitting jobs, but it has also been amongst the fastest at snapping up job-seekers.

More than 300,000 job openings are listed on the Department of Labor site. Butler said his department is also focusing on getting qualified workers into the right careers.

While economists fear that the soaring gas prices and inflation in general could hamper growth, there is no sign yet that hiring has cooled.

PepsiCo is adding 136 jobs at its DeKalb County bottling plant as part of a $260 million expansion, according to documents from the county’s economic development arm. The plant in Tucker currently employs 464 people.

And Serena & Lily, a high-end furniture company, will create 75 jobs in a 1.2-million-square-foot distribution facility planned for Effingham County, the company announced this week. Government and company officials said the California-based company will build its $55 million facility at the Georgia International Trade Center in Rincon.

Thursday’s announcement from the Labor Department was delayed by the government’s annual data update. The February jobs report is slated to be released in two weeks.


Jobs in Georgia

January 2022: added 19,400

Average January, pre-pandemic: lost 500

Unemployment rate, January 2022: 3.2%,

National unemployment rate, January 2022: 4%

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After losing 700 jobs in August, Georgia’s has steadily added more.

September: 20,600

October: 20,800

November: 18,500

December: 24,200

January: 19,400

Sources: Georgia Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics

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