Editorial: Latest labor department reports show positive news for Georgia's economy

Georgia’s economic fortunes have taken a dramatic turn in the past 10 years — for the better.

In 2009 as the country was being rocked by the fallout from the Great Recession, there were about a half million Georgians who were officially unemployed. Today, that number has shrunk to 190,000, including many who might work but aren’t actively looking for a job.

The state Department of Labor reported this month that Georgia had its most robust June for job growth in more than two decades as our state’s economy grew by 20,200 jobs. During the past 12 months, the state has added 80,000 jobs.

“The numbers for June are very impressive,” Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said in a press release. “There’s plenty to be encouraged about in the June report.”

The June numbers were in contrast to the first five months of the year as hiring had been weak.

Closer to home, the labor department reported that the Northwest region added to its workforce and the number of employed residents in May. Preliminary results showed that the 12-county area, which includes Murray and Whitfield, also had fewer unemployment claims filed in May than April.

Although the unemployment rate for the region increased in May, rising by 0.2% to 3.3%, the jobless rate was still lower than a year ago when it was 3.5%.

Also, the labor force increased in May by 2,392, reaching 419,064. That number is up by 153 from the total from May 2018.

The Northwest region closed May with 405,124 employed residents. The number increased by 1,561 in May, and 1,072 compared to May 2018.

In Metro Dalton, which is Whitfield and Murray counties, June numbers were released this week and were a mixed bag. The labor force increased by 190 to reach 61,424. That number is up by 50 from June 2018. The number of unemployment claims fell in June by about 27%.

Metro Dalton ended June with 69,400 jobs, a decrease of about 100 from May but an increase of about 1,200 when compared to June of last year.

But, the unemployment rate increased in June in Metro Dalton, rising by 0.6% to 4.5%, so that number will bear watching. Still, a year ago, the rate was 4.9%

How will the state’s July numbers turn out? We remain optimistic that our state economy will continue on an upward trajectory.

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