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Simon Says: Georgia labor market grows 2.2%, Augusta at 0.4%

Dr. Simon Medcalfe, AU Economics Professor

The labor market in Georgia grew at a 2.2 percent annual rate in 2021 but the growth was not evenly spread around the state.

Urban areas around Atlanta and coastal cities fared best. The fastest growing labor market, at 3.8 percent, was Savannah with nearby Brunswick also reporting 2.1 percent growth. Atlanta and Gainesville grew at 2.1 percent and 2.3 percent respectively.

Augusta recorded growth of 0.4 percent. Two cities saw deteriorating labor markets: Albany and Columbus. Only two Metropolitan Statistical Areas beat the Georgia growth rate suggesting non-MSA areas of the state also performed well.

This data comes from my Labor Market Index (LMI) that includes employment, unemployment, average weekly earnings, average weekly hours worked and the labor force.

Savannah added almost 11,000 jobs in 2021 and saw its unemployment rate fall from 5 percent to 2.5 percent. The labor force grew by almost 6,000 people and earnings increased 8.5 percent. As Gary Kauffman reported Monday in ABD, the port of Savannah saw a 20 percent increase in shipping containers for 2021, for a record 5.6 million units.

By contrast, Augusta added 700 jobs and saw the unemployment rate fall to 2.9 percent from 4.8 percent. The labor force decreased by 400 people and earnings declined by 2.38 percent. Both MSA’s saw hours worked increase by about 20 minutes per week.

Atlanta saw the largest increase in employment of 135,000 and Gainesville had the lowest unemployment rate of 1.8 percent.

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