Metro Atlanta hiring slows in November

Unemployment rate drops, but labor force also shrinks

Metro Atlanta employers continued to add to their payrolls in November ahead of the holiday season but hiring also slowed as companies approached the end of the year with caution.

The Atlanta region added a little more than 1,000 jobs last month, the Georgia Department of Labor reported Thursday, a fraction of the 25,000-plus jobs the region gained a month earlier.

The region’s jobs engine has started to sputter amid persistent inflation and other global economic concerns. The Federal Reserve’s efforts to wrestle inflation — including interest rate hikes — have both curbed prices and put a chill on the economy. Though metro Atlanta and Georgia, respectively, have proven resilient, a slowdown in hiring has been expected.

Yet many employers are still seeking help, as the number of open positions in the region is greater than the number of jobless workers seeking employment.

“We are seeing job numbers continue to rise across the state as Georgians secure employment,” state Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said in a news release. “Unemployment rates also dropped in all of our regional commissions in November as we entered the holiday employment period.”

The metro Atlanta unemployment rate dropped to 2.7% compared to 2.9% in October, but discouraged workers figured into that decline. Only those actively seeking a job are counted as unemployed, meaning the rate can fall not only when the region adds jobs but when discouraged workers give up the hunt for employment. The Atlanta area saw its labor force shrink by nearly 4,500 in November.

Initial jobless claims, meanwhile, also grew 21% in November to 1,683 across metro Atlanta. The labor department said claims increased since October in administrative and support services and information jobs.

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Earlier this month, the labor department reported that November represented the weakest jobs expansion statewide in more than a year.

Higher interest rates make it more expensive for businesses and consumers to borrow money, making it more costly for businesses to expand and tempering consumer demand.

Home prices and sales have also declined amid the Fed’s inflation-fighting efforts.

Tech companies, notably Meta, the parent of Facebook, but also Twitter, Amazon and others, have announced job cuts as they tighten belts ahead of the New Year.

Economists with the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia predicted in its 2023 forecast last week that the state will weather a potential downturn with a small decline in jobs and gross domestic product. The report said forecasters expect the Fed to moderate its approach next year.

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“One reason we do not expect many job losses is that employers will be slow to lay off workers,” Ben Ayers, dean of the University of Georgia Terry College of Business, said last week. “Employers went to great lengths to hire enough workers in the wake of the pandemic and know that workers will be in short supply on the other side of the recession.”

Metro Atlanta employment by the numbers

November unemployment rate: 2.7%

November jobs added: 1,026

October unemployment rate: 2.9%

November 2021 unemployment rate: 3%