Georgia unemployment rate falls, hiring stronger than average for February

 Georgia’s unemployment rate edged down to 5.3 percent in February from 5.5 percent in January, the state labor department said today.

The state added 12,000 jobs during the month, about twice as many as the average for the past three Februarys. 

During the month, the number of employed people in the state climbed to more than 4.7 million, while slightly more than 267,000 were out of work and actively looking for a job. Layoffs were down from the same month a year ago, said Mark Butler, the state labor commissioner. 

“Our unemployment rate fell as Georgia set new record highs for the number of people employed and for the size of our labor force, which crossed the five-million mark for the first time,” said Butler. 

While it is too early to see the impact of Trump administration policies, this report covers the first full month of the new administration. 

The month before was -- as January typically is -- a relatively weak month for the job market. 

 Holiday spending and travel are on the wane, as is the need to move lots of packages. All of that can mean less demand for workers in stores, hotels, restaurants, warehouses and trucking companies. 

 At same time, businesses that put off making cuts until after Christmas often get out the pink slips in the New Year. And while other companies may be gearing up to start the year’s hiring, they may not have had time to pull the trigger yet. 

But if January generally lags, February can often be a rebound month.

Here are seven ways to sound smart in talking about Georgia’s jobless rate:

1. Look in the rear view mirror. Georgia unemployment rate a year ago was 5.5 percent, so on the surface, it may look as if the job market hasn’t gotten much better. After all, the past year, the economy has added more than 100,000 jobs. 

But in those same 12 months, more than 100,000 people have been added to the job market – moving into Georgia, coming out of school or getting out of the kitchen and back into the search for a paycheck.

So, if the unemployment rate hasn’t gone done more mainly because a lot more people are in the labor force, looking for work.

2. Compare us to the big American picture. Georgia’s rate is still significantly above the national rate of 4.7 percent. It has not been below the national average since 2007, which was before the economy slipped into recession.

Despite that, the pace of job growth in Georgia has been faster than the nation expansion. 

3. Compare us to years past. It was  stronger than an average February for job growth. During the five previous years, from January to February, the number of jobs in the state grew by an average of 6,400. 

4. Take the loooong view. When things were really bad – coming out of the 2007-09 recession – the Georgia jobless rate was 10.5 percent, and that doesn’t include tens of thousands of people who dropped out of the labor force or went back to school.

The jobless rate before the recession was below 5.0 percent. The very lowest rate on record for the state was in November of 2000: 3.4 percent. 

5. Remember what unemployed means. Despite nearly seven years of job growth, in Georgia’s workforce of just over 5.0 million people, there are still more than a quarter-million Georgians looking for work. 

The estimated number of Georgians who were unemployed in December but actively looking for work was 267,370.

That is far lower than it was during the worst of the jobs crisis. But a historically high share of the unemployed have been looking for more than six months. And anyone not actively looking for work is not officially counted as unemployed. 

6. Talk about the strong sectors. The sectors adding the most employees were professional and business services the corporate sector, which expanded by 6,100 positions. That was followed by education and health services, with 4,400 more jobs; information services, which added 2,000; and financial activities, expanding by 1,200. 

7. Talk about the weak sectors. Some job losses came in manufacturing, down 2,100; retail trade, shedding 900; arts, entertainment and recreation, off by 700; the federal government, which lost 400; and other services, decreasing 300. 

The state has its own site for job seekers. For those interested, click here.  For more news and releases from the state Department of Labor, click right here.

The Department of Labor is helping Mount Ephraim Baptist Church with the Atlanta Career Expo featuring 50 employers a week from today. (That’s March 30. 

The expo will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Mount Ephraim Family Life Center, 1202 West Marietta St. N.W. in Atlanta.  For more information about the jobs, or to apply online, visit to create an account and upload, or prepare, a resume. 

For more information about the expo, or employers wanting to register, contact or (404) 273-1415 or the Clayton Career Center at (678) 284-0200.  

Also note that there is a job fair in Cobb, part of the search to find 150 seasonal workers for Braves games. Information about that here.  


Georgia’s job situation 


Job change, February  

2007 -- 3,000

2008 -- 1,000

2009 -- down 26,400

2010 -- down 2,700

2011 -- 37,900

2012 -- 4,100

2013 -- 10,000

2014 -- down 5,000

2015 -- 12,000

2016 --  10,700

2017  -- 12,000


Unemployment rate, February  

2007 -- 4.4 percent 

2008 -- 5.4 percent

2009 -- 9.3 percent

2010 -- 10.5 percent

2011 -- 10.3 percent

2012 -- 9.5 percent

2013 -- 8.5 percent

2014 -- 7.3 percent

2015 -- 6.2 percent

2016 -- 5.5 percent

2017  -- 5.3 percent



Sources: Georgia Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics

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