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Simon Says: Numbers don’t always match the words spoken about them

Dr. Simon Medcalfe, AU Economics Professor

I am sometimes a little skeptical of some numbers bandied around by politicians and economic development folks, but I do understand they are cheerleaders and need to present information in the best light.

So, it was with interest that I read in Augusta Business Daily last week that Pat Wilson, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, said Georgia had added 35,000 jobs in the Fiscal Year 2022. The state fiscal year began in July 2021. I looked up the job numbers on the Federal Reserve Economic Data website which can be seen in the graph below.

Employment in Georgia in July 2021 was 4,597,800 which increased to 4,740,400 in March 2022 (the latest data available). This means Georgia added over 142,000 jobs in this fiscal year. Wilson was actually underplaying his hand!

Wilson also claimed that “We create jobs in every corner of the state, many people think all the jobs go to Atlanta, but that’s not the case.”

So, I examined this claim and found the first part is largely correct. Ironically, the only Metropolitan Statistical Area that did not see jobs created in FY2022 was the city in which Wilson was making his speech – Augusta. Augusta’s employment level in July 2021 and March 2022 was 239,500. Non-metro areas added about 14,000 jobs in the Fiscal Year 2022 so far.

However, over 100,000 of those 142,000 new jobs were created in Atlanta (see chart below). So not “all” but almost three-quarters of new jobs were created in Atlanta. Atlanta currently accounts for 62 percent of all the jobs in the state, so the capital is increasing its dominance of the state in terms of jobs.

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