Employment in the Augusta MSA has increased by 4,000 jobs in the last year, through April – the latest available data, but remains more than 6,000 jobs off the pre-pandemic peak (see chart below). As I have written about in recent articles (April 13, May 4), this makes Augusta one of the worst-performing economies in Georgia.
The more bad news was released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on May 18. Job openings in Georgia declined by 33,000 in March. Georgia was one of four states to see a decline, admittedly from a record high in February. South Carolina job openings remain essentially unchanged.
Hiring also fell by 45,000 in Georgia. The Augusta labor force continues to remain below pre-pandemic levels. This labor shortage has not been helped by average weekly earnings in Augusta lagging behind those of Georgia and the nation over the last year (see chart below).
This economic data does not position Augusta well for any potential slowdown of the economy. A recent survey of economists by Bloomberg put the odds of a recession in the next 12 months at 30 percent.
The Federal Reserve has raised interest rates to combat the historically high inflation rate, but this will also slow the growth of the economy. With already slow growth in the Augusta area, this could be potentially damaging in the coming year or so.