“Georgia’s jobs numbers ... reinforce the state’s position as one of the nation’s best places to find employment,” said Mark Butler, the state’s commissioner of labor.
The national unemployment rate in July was 3.5%.
Georgia’s jobless rate last month dipped to 2.8% from an already historically low 2.9% in June. In the 5.3 million-person Georgia labor force, about 150,000 were unemployed and looking for work, the fewest since early 2001.
Hiring last month was strongest in hospitality, health care and retail, said Butler.
Still, employment in leisure and hospitality jobs has not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels in Georgia, wrote Wells Fargo economists in an online commentary Thursday.
Many of those jobs won’t come back until workers are back in their offices and the state’s convention industry is back in full swing, the economists wrote.
“While parts of Georgia’s economy are continuing to recover from the pandemic, the tailwind from rehiring is clearly slowing,” the report said.
Late last year, the Federal Reserve started its campaign to cool inflation by using higher interest rates to make borrowing and investment more costly as a way to dampen growth. While that effort has shown some signs of success — especially in the housing market — it has barely dented hiring and it hasn’t sparked large-scale layoffs.
Last week, the Georgia Department of Labor received 5,829 filings for unemployment insurance. That was lower than the previous two months, although it was modestly higher than the number of filings in the spring.
The labor market remains relatively tight, with thousands of openings going unfilled and many companies struggling to find what they need to meet customer demand.
In July, 5.2% of job postings featured signing bonuses, more than three times higher than the same month in 2019, according to Indeed.
Nationally, job openings are still at historically high levels, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In Georgia, the state jobs site lists more than 217,000 jobs, according to Butler, the labor commissioner. Demand for workers is strong “in multiple sectors, which demonstrates employment opportunities the state is experiencing across the board,” he said.
Among employers with more than 1,000 job postings are Deloitte, Wellstar Health System, Walmart, Amazon and Home Depot.
But many smaller businesses are also competing for employees and 44% of them say hiring is “very difficult,” according to a survey by the Federal Reserve’s regional banks. Of companies having trouble with hiring, 78% said they weren’t receiving enough applicants.
Which means you have to go looking for them, said Dennis Holcom, senior vice president for Workout Anytime, a gym with 41 locations in the state.
And Workout Anytime is looking. Each franchised locations hires up to seven staffers and trainers. The Georgia-based company is opening seven more sites, typically paying between $12 and $16 an hour.
Hiring in the current job market often means looking at workers currently with some of those larger chains, Holcom said. “A lot of our locations are short-staffed. But good people are already working. You are going to have to steal them from somewhere.”
Georgia job market
Lowest pre-pandemic: 3.4% (Nov. 2019, Dec. 2000)
Highest pre-pandemic: 10.9% (Nov. 2009)
Recent: 2.8% (July 2022)
Job growth, July
High pre-pandemic: 55,300 (1996)
Average pre-pandemic: 1,700
Recent: 12,500 (2022)
Number of unemployed*
High pre-pandemic: 519,115 (Oct. 2009)
Low pre-pandemic: 120,179 (Sept. 1979)
Low, past 25 years: 143,260 (Nov. 2000)
Recent: 150,191 (July 2022)
*Out of work, actively seeking a job
Sources: Georgia Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics