The latest job openings report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for September showed a decline of 4% in the South region. The BLS has just started releasing job openings by state and the decline in South Carolina was 1.1% and in Georgia it was less than 1 percent. Since job openings in Georgia and South Carolina represent a better picture of the economy for Augusta, I will be using a weighted average of Georgia and South Carolina job openings in the Augusta Leading Economic Index (LEI) moving forward. In 2020, 67 percent of jobs in the Augusta MSA were located in Georgia counties (Burke, Columbia, Lincoln, McDuffie, and Richmond) and 33 percent in South Carolina (Aiken and Edgefield). These are the weights I use, and will be adjusted annually, in the Augusta LEI. The chart shows the recovery from the pandemic has been stronger using Georgia and South Carolina job openings compared to the South region.
The Augusta LEI is used as an indicator of future economic activity. I will discuss my thoughts on the local economy at the annual Economic Forecast Breakfast on December 9th at 7:30 am. The event is free and open to the public but we ask that attendees register for catering purposes. If you are interested, please register at bit.ly/EconBreakfast21 by December 3rd, 2021.