Georgia’s economy kept rolling as the weather warmed, adding 10,400 jobs in April with hiring especially strong in health care and hospitality, the state Department of Labor said Thursday.
Growth was more than twice a typical April as the state’s employers added to payrolls in a range of sectors, so that virtually all new jobseekers were snapped up.
A sign of the labor market’s strength: The state’s unemployment rate held steady at 3.1% — where it has been since July — despite another increase in the number of people in the workforce.
The workforce, which includes everyone either working or actively searching for a job, has increased for seven consecutive months, according to the Department of Labor.
A number of high-profile companies have announced job cuts in recent months, including Amazon, Microsoft and Google, which have significant presence in metro Atlanta. And the number of workers filing for unemployment benefits was higher in April than a year earlier, according to the Department of Labor.
With inflation ebbing but still a problem, new technologies like artificial intelligence getting traction and Congress so far unable to lift the debt ceiling, there is a sense of unease at many companies, said Andrew Challenger, senior vice president at Challenger, Gray & Christmas, an outplacement firm that tracks layoffs and executive movements. “Companies have a lot to consider as we head to the second half of the year.”
April saw the most chief executives leaving their jobs since the Challenger started tracking CEO exits in 2002, he said.
Yet those jitters have not translated into a broad slowdown in hiring.
Last month’s growth outpaced the 3,860 jobs added in an average April pre-pandemic. The best pre-pandemic April was in 2005, near the peak of the housing boom, as the Georgia economy added 36,800 jobs. The worst was in 2001, just after the bust of the tech bubble, when the state lost 24,900 jobs.
Last month, the state’s online jobs board had more than 154,000 listings, including more than 30,000 in health care, according to Bruce Thompson, the state’s labor commissioner. The deepest listings are at Wellstar Health Systems, which had 2,200 positions open, and Piedmont Healthcare, which listed 1,200 jobs.
USA Jobs, the online site for federal employment, currently lists several thousand jobs in Georgia, including about 1,000 jobs in metro Atlanta, plus hundreds of jobs that could be done remotely, according to the agency.
Among the most common postings were for the Internal Revenue Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Preventio, Veteran’s Health Administration and the Federal Aviation Administration.
In some sectors, companies have complained of being unable to find the qualified workers they need. Moreover, with demand for their services high, many employees have been quick to jump ship when lured by better pay or more flexible schedules.
Higher pay and robust hiring is typically a draw for people who have dropped out of the labor force to retire early, tend to family or nurture their health. The share of working-age people in the labor force in Georgia pre-pandemic was 63%, falling below 60% in mid-2020, and now at 61.9%, according to Thompson.
The need for workers is also reflected in lower-than-usual unemployment for younger and minority workers.
Pre-pandemic, the national jobless rate for Black workers was 6.3% compared to an overall rate of 3.5%. The jobless rate in April for Blacks was 4.7%, compared to a 3.4% rate overall.
Thompson on Thursday also announced the appointment of Louis DeBroux as his chief of staff and Dana Woodall as chief operating officer for the Department of Labor.
Georgia jobs in April
Best, pre-pandemic: 36,800 (2005)
Worst, pre-pandemic: -24,900 (2001)
Average, pre-pandemic: 3,860
Recent: 10,400 (2023)
Most hiring by sector
Health care and social assistance
Accommodation and food services
Professional, scientific and technical services
Finance and insurance
Transportation and warehousing
Sources: Georgia Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics