Metro jobless rate drops sharply


Metro Atlanta’s unemployment rate dropped from 7.7 percent in October to 7 percent in November, the largest month-to-month decline in more than a decade, the state’s labor department reported Thursday.

Not since October 2008, as the Great Recession picked up steam, had the region’s jobless rate been so low. Then, as companies and governments began shedding jobs with abandon, the rate stood at 6.9 percent.

Five long years later, during which a good monthly jobs report has often been followed by a bad one, Atlanta’s employment picture now appears to be steadying — and brightening.

“I haven’t seen the job market this warm in more than six years,” said Paul Snyder, an intown Atlantan who got a public relations job in November. “I would be surprised if it slowed drastically or reversed course.”

Seasonal hiring trends help explain the big November decline. Fall is typically a time of job growth as retail and other industries gear up for the holiday season. December can be cruel to the job seeker. Last year, for example, the unemployment rate jumped from 8.1 in November to 8.4 percent in December.

“A lot of people are doing a lot of part-time hours, so after the holidays (the rate) will go up again,” predicted Harris Hollis, a laid-off long-distance trucker applying for unemployment benefits Thursday at a state-run jobs office in Northeast Atlanta.

Only a dozen other jobless waited alongside Hollis for assistance at the usually teeming “career center” on North Druid Hills Road, although the job center in Gwinnett County was much busier late Thursday morning.

Georgia Labor commissioner Mark Butler cited fewer jobless claims, and increased private sector hiring, for November’s good jobs news. 2014, overall, should be blue skies for Atlanta’s economy and its workers, he added.

“No doubt we’ll see some difficult bumps that we normally see in January and February, but in talking to employers across the state we’ll continue moving in the right direction,” Butler said. “More Georgians are going back to work.”

The Atlanta region added 59,200 jobs between November 2012 and November 2013, a 2.5 percent increase. Job growth materialized across the board: 15,100 accountants, secretaries and temp workers were hired; 12,000 waiters and housekeepers found work; and 11,500 teachers, nurses and home health care workers rejoined the labor force.

The construction (10,500 jobs) and transportation (8,700 jobs) industries also did well. Local, state and federal governments lopped off 6,900 jobs, or 1 percent of the November 2012 total.

“It would be phenomenally good news if we could remain stuck at 7 percent,” said Jeff Humphreys, an economist at the University of Georgia. “I expect more good news, but I would be surprised if the rate continues to fall at this pace.”

Nonetheless, Humphreys is revising his 2014 economic prognostications. He is further lowering his jobless rate predictions and expects only a 25 percent — down from 30 percent — chance the economy will return to recession.

Snyder, the P.R. guy, lost a fundraising job at a local college last June. A desire to return to publicity work led to a small, but promising roster of clients. Snyder, though, sought bigger, steadier game. He was hired last month by Write2Market, an Atlanta firm specializing in high tech, e-commerce and health care.

“Atlanta’s base of business is still so healthy that it doesn’t surprise me to see things rebounding here,” said Snyder, 40. “There are positions I was searching for that are still out there. In fact, we still have a couple of positions to fill.”


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Business

How to win an argument at work - or stop one before it starts
How to win an argument at work - or stop one before it starts

No one expects to navigate the work world without the occasional argument. And it's nice to "win" when you're in the right. »RELATED: Does birth order affect you in the workplace? But what really matters more than besting your manager or co-workers in an argument is how you handle the conflicts that are an inevitable part of work, ...
8 easy, money-making side gigs for teens 
8 easy, money-making side gigs for teens 

Whether it's the teen who'd like extra money for things like clothes or gas or a parent who'd like to see their high school or college-aged child get off the couch when school’s out, a part-time job can be a wonderful thing. »RELATED: Apple hiring for work from home positions Of course, child labor laws dictate how young is too young...
Atlanta purchasing chief gets 27 months for role in federal bribery case
Atlanta purchasing chief gets 27 months for role in federal bribery case

Adam Smith, the city of Atlanta’s former top purchasing official, was sentenced Tuesday to 27 months in prison for his part in the city’s cash-for-contracts scandal following an emotional hearing in which supporters and even the government asked for leniency in light of his cooperation and acceptance of responsibility.   ...
Lawsuit accuses Delta of discrimination in restroom run bumping
Lawsuit accuses Delta of discrimination in restroom run bumping

A lawsuit is moving forward in which a Delta Air Lines passenger, who was booted from a plane last year after an urgent restroom run before takeoff, accuses the airline of racial discrimination. The passenger, Kima Hamilton, gained widespread attention after a video posted online showed him being asked to exit the plane. An attorney seated nearby...
Diet Coke rebrands with ‘real (new) thing’ to attract millenials
Diet Coke rebrands with ‘real (new) thing’ to attract millenials

Coca-Cola has introduced new packaging and four new fruit-flavored drinks to its Diet-Coke brand, to attract a new generation of drinkers. In a statement, the company said the re-brand will target consumers interested in trying new things, besides retaining the loyal diet coke consumer. “We’re contemporizing the Diet Coke brand and portfolio...
More Stories