Georgia’s jobless rate bumps up again

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For the second month in a row, the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate edged up to 7.4 percent in June, a slight increase over May’s 7.2 percent jobless level.

The June number was still a substantial improvement over the 8.4 percent unemployment rate registered for June 2013, according to figures released by the Georgia Department of Labor.

The number of jobs in June declined by 18,000 (0.4 percent) from the state’s 4,126,100 jobs in May, the Labor Department said, with most of the losses occurring in public and private educational services, as well as social assistance jobs at pre-school and daycare centers.

“Although the rate increased, it’s because of seasonal factors, such as the summer job loss among non-contract school workers and temporary layoffs, primarily in manufacturing,” Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said. “We also saw our labor force increase for the sixth month in a row.”

Butler said employers in Georgia overall “have created 81,100 jobs since last June, which is the largest June-to-June job growth since 2006.”

Compared to June 2013, the Labor Department said there have been job gains in these sectors: professional and business services, 27,100; trade, transportation and warehousing, 20,400; leisure and hospitality, 18,600; manufacturing, 6,900; construction, 6,400; education and health services, 4,000; information services, 1,900; and financial services, 1,700. There were 5,700 fewer jobs in the government sector.

There were 37,917 new claims filed for unemployment insurance benefits in June, which was an increase of 4,726 (or 14.2 percent) over the number of jobless claims filed in May. The June number included 3,376 unemployment claims in manufacturing.

Georgia’s unemployment rate for June was higher than the national jobless rate of 6.1 percent. That was 83rd consecutive month in which the national rate has been lower than the state’s rate.

In related news, the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute, an Atlanta-based think tank, released a report Thursday that said the number of jobs paying middle-class wages in the state has been slow to recover from the downturn that occurred during the great recession.

“Industries in Georgia that pay a middle-class wage suffered most during the Great Recession, and have come back more slowly than low- and high-wage industries during the recovery,” said the report written by policy analyst Wesley Tharpe.

The GBPI report said:

Georgia’s mid-wage industries comprised 52 percent of private sector job losses during the Great Recession from 2007 to 2010, but only 15 percent of gains during the recovery from 2010 to 2013. Georgia’s private sector had about 138,100 fewer jobs in mid-wage industries in 2013 than it did in 2007, before the recession began. . . .

Low- and high-wage industries in Georgia have recovered the jobs lost during the recession, unlike mid-wage industries. Low- and high-wage industries account for a combined 85 percent of Georgia’s net job growth from 2010 to 2013, split about evenly between the two. . . .

Government professions, such as teachers and police officers, are a historical source of middle-class jobs with decent wages. But Georgia’s state and local governments employed 35,700 fewer workers in 2013 than they did in 2007. About 54 percent, or 19,400, of these lost jobs are due to layoffs among education workers employed by local governments.

© 2014 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: GBPI , Labor Department , Mark Butler , unemployment rate