Putting Georgia’s employment numbers in perspective

Putting Georgia’s employment numbers in perspective

Putting Georgia’s employment numbers in perspective

homeless no job

Is there any reason not to cheer? Georgia’s unemployment rate dropped to 4.1 percent in May. 

Here are three reasons why this looks good for Georgia. 

First, the unemployment rate is declining, giving optimism that the economy is bouncing back from the pandemic.

Second, there were only two periods in recorded history when Georgia’s unemployment rate was this low or lower. Starting from 1976—the extent of available data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on unemployment rates for the states—the first period was between October 1998 and July 2001 when the rate reached as low as 3.4 percent. This period occurred after the long economic expansion of the 1990s. 

The other period—from April 2018 to the start of the pandemic—just occurred with Donald Trump in the White House. During this period, Georgia broke its best record by achieving 3.3 percent.

Third, Georgia’s rate is the 16th lowest in the country, beating out 34 other states. For comparison, the United States as a whole has a rate of 5.8 percent rate, considerably higher than Georgia’s.



But wait. Is the unemployment rate artificially low?

While optimism is merited, it is important to put the unemployment numbers in perspective.

Unemployment percentages do not capture those who do not participate in the labor force. According to the BLS, anyone not employed who had not actively looked for a job during the prior four weeks is not part of the labor force. Therefore, any person temporarily not looking for work is not accounted for when the BLS calculates the official unemployment rate. Especially now with all the repercussions of the pandemic, all those potential workers who have been sitting on the sidelines for the last four weeks are simply not counted.

The behavior of labor force participation is a loose link for unemployment numbers. Normally, when economic times are good, sidelined workers and even retirees come back into the labor force, which can push the unemployment rate up. When times are bad, the opposite happens. Workers drop out of the labor force, artificially lowering the unemployment rate.

During the depth of the pandemic, and as expected, the labor force participation rate in Georgia dropped—to 59.4 percent to be precise, compared to 62.9 percent just prior to the pandemic. In terms of real people, there were an estimated 260,575 fewer workers participating in the labor force—who were not counted among the unemployed, to emphasize the point. Participation bounced back some to 61.7 percent, but still there are 40,934 fewer workers in the labor force.

Other ways to measure it

BLS’s U-6 labor underutilization metric is another way to shed light on unemployment. It adds to the unemployed those discouraged and other “marginally attached” workers as well as part-time workers wanting full-time work but cannot find it. 

Nationally, the U-6 rate hit a historic high of 22.9 percent in April 2020 representing 36.3 million people. It has since dropped to 10.2 percent representing 16.5 million people. However, in the months prior to the pandemic, the rate was at historic lows—in fact, as low as 6.8 percent. Obviously, while 10.2 percent is far better than 22.9 percent, it is significantly worse than 6.8 percent, representing a difference of 5.3 million workers.

Unfortunately, monthly U-6 data is not available for the states, making any comparison difficult. The BLS currently publishes only experimental U-6 state data averaged over a year’s time.

More useful for the states is the Nonfarm Employment estimates from BLS’s Current Employment Statistics survey. Only two states—Utah & Idaho—have caught up with employment from where they were in February 2020 before the pandemic hit. In contrast, the U.S as a whole is still 5% behind. Georgia ranks 16th among the states and is 4.0 % behind. Hawaii (-14.8%), New York (-9.6%), and Nevada (-8.6%) are the three states furthest behind. 

If we use standard economic ARIMA Model time-series forecasting to estimate where employment would have been absent the pandemic, no state is back on track. The United States is 6.8% behind, and Georgia ranks near the middle in 27th place at −6.1%. Utah and Idaho lead the pack being the furthest ahead, while Hawaii, Nevada, New York, California, and Massachusetts trail the pack.

Observations on state differences and policies

In viewing the differences in employment among the states, the more rural states appear to be doing better. The states more dependent on tourism appear to be doing worse. State governments that implemented less severe lockdowns appear to be doing better. To test these observations, we will be running regression analyses to tease out any correlations. We will post the results when completed.

In the meantime, it is important for government to adopt policies that will help businesses to rebound and make it easier for startups. The goal should be not to just lower unemployment but also to bring those sidelined workers back into the labor force.

Erik Randolph is the Director of Research at the Georgia Center for Opportunity.

5 Ways to Impress an Employer (Soup to Nuts)

5 Ways to Impress an Employer (Soup to Nuts)

5 Ways to Impress an Employer (Soup to Nuts)

cropped impress employer

5 Ways to Impress an Employer (Soup to Nuts)

Let’s pretend you’re getting ready for an interview. You’re probably wondering what you should wear and whether you should prepare to shake hands or fist bump in the post-COVID world. You may even be practicing eye contact and commanding your best smile in the mirror. While these things are great, and I encourage you to pay attention to them, the real preparation to impress begins long before you even secure that interview.

The impression you will make on your future employer begins with the very first touch. Maybe that’s the instant your friend who works for the company sends an email inquiry on your behalf or the minute the hiring manager first views your application and resume. An impression is formed from those first moments and through every point of contact (whether virtual or in-person) until you accept a job offer.

This means you must consider every response to every email, text or phone call, and anything else that can be searched and discovered about you online as admissible in the court of employer perception.

Here are 5 ways that you can prepare to impress an employer and set the stage for a good relationship:

  1. Make a good impression by cleaning up your online presence

Search for yourself on Google to see what you find. (One tip is to include your city and/or state in search to refine the results.) Change your settings on your social channels so that only your friends can view your profile, and remember that employers expect to find some information about you on Facebook and other social channels. This makes it important for you to share a public post every so often that paints a picture of yourself that you are proud for employers to see.


  1. Keep your communication professional

When you respond to an email or a text inquiry from an employer, use full sentences and punctuation. Don’t talk like you would to your friends. Instead, pretend that you are already talking with the employer in an interview and respond like you would in that situation.


  1. Don’t over share

When responding to an interview request, it’s ok to ask for an alternate date or time. However, you don’t need to give a potential employer every detail of your situation. There is no need to tell an employer that your child has the flu or that you have to take your father-in-law to the doctor. You want to be honest, but this is far too much information to share right away, and there are much better ways to find out if an employer has family-friendly values. 

BETTER OPPORTUNITY is a project designed to bring together the communities we serve to BETTER the lives of our neighbors. As a first step we currently have work resources available that help individuals find and maintain work.

Over the coming months and years we will be expanding our efforts and locations to include family and education resources.

A job is so much more than a paycheck. BETTER WORK is proud to be serving local communities.

  1. Refine your resume 

Of course, preparation doesn’t end here. You will want to keep your resume fresh and mention the skills that make you a good fit for the job you’re applying for. If you don’t think you have all of the needed skills, find someone who can help you refine your resume. Working together, you can usually identify skills you do have that are transferable.


  1. Be able to explain during an interview why you are interested in the job you have applied for 

As a rule of thumb, everything you say and do must show that you care about the job and understand why it is important to you. If you can do this, you will have a good chance of getting a job offer. I recommend that you never answer the question, “Why are you interested in this position?”, with the response, “I just need a job. I’m happy to do anything you need me to.” This answer has kept many good candidates from receiving the offer they hoped to get.


Wrapping up

All of these steps are important and more. You must research the company before you apply and review that information before you show up for an interview. You will also want to prepare to follow-up in an appropriate way after the interview. It’s a good idea to ask the interviewer how and when you should follow-up. This is one way to show that you care.

As mentioned earlier, it can also help to have someone in your corner to encourage you and help you consider transferable skills or prepare for interviews. If you are looking for better work and would like someone by your side to help you prepare to find and keep a job that meets your needs, BETTER WORK communities have mentors who are available to walk alongside you during your journey. Visit betteropportunity.org to find out more.


Biden’s ‘Illusions Of Economic Magic’ Fail The Forgotten American | DAILY CALLER

Biden’s ‘Illusions Of Economic Magic’ Fail The Forgotten American | DAILY CALLER

In The News

Biden’s ‘Illusions Of Economic Magic’ Fail The Forgotten American | DAILY CALLER

In a very different time — yet in similar economic straits — then-presidential candidate Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke of the “forgotten man,” the American left behind by seismic trends and sweeping changes beyond his control.

“These unhappy times call for the building of plans that rest upon the forgotten, the unorganized but the indispensable units of economic power,” FDR told Americans on April 7, 1932 in a radio address. He went on to call for policies “that build from the bottom up and not from the top down, that put their faith once more in the forgotten man at the bottom of the economic pyramid.”…

team of economists at the Georgia Center for Opportunity have for the first time published a study that demonstrates how people receiving government assistance from multiple programs —such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, food stamps, free school lunches and Medicaid — face a difficult benefits cliff if they were to find work. The study calculates “benefit cliffs” for families in 888 counties across eight states. For example, a working single mom with two children in Memphis, Tennessee, would astoundingly lose more than $8,000 in combined earnings and benefits if her pay were bumped up less than $2 to a $15 hourly wage.

Q&A with Hire Dynamics on challenges of hiring in 2021

Q&A with Hire Dynamics on challenges of hiring in 2021

Q&A with Hire Dynamics on challenges of hiring in 2021


April’s nonfarm payroll numbers came in at 266,000, well below the 1 million people forecasters estimated would be hired that month. 

The low number wasn’t because there were a lack of jobs. There were 8.1 million open positions at the end of March. And it wasn’t due to a lack of people who need work. In April, there were 18.2 million people who received some form of federal unemployment assistance.

Hire Dynamics, a staffing and professional recruitment business that operates in the Atlanta area in addition to other locations across the U.S., has experienced the shortage of workers first hand. The following Q&A is an interview with Chuck Fallaw, regional manager for Hire Dynamics.

Q: Please explain what your business does / your focus

Hire Dynamics is a regional staffing agency headquartered in Atlanta GA. We focus on temp-to-hire staffing in the manufacturing, logistics/e-commerce, warehouse distribution, administrative, and call center verticals.

Q: What was hiring like prior to the pandemic?

Prior to the pandemic, we faced challenges with finding talent due to incredibly low unemployment. For example, in Nashville, TN where we had a 1.2% unemployment rate. Their pay rates were naturally rising due to the competition for talent. However, it was still much easier to fill positions than it has been over the last year and a half.

Q: How about during the pandemic?

Hiring during the pandemic was a unique challenge. Many of our clients are considered essential, so their need for talent never slowed down. Outside of true shutdowns, we were still able to fill some roles. That changed quite a bit in the last six months.



What we do matters.

  • Best of Staffing for Client & Talent Satisfaction by ClearlyRated – 11 years in a row:
  • Top 1% of more than 20,000 staffing companies
  • Continuously recognized as a Best Place to Work company throughout the Southeast
  • Superior client loyalty: client ratings 8 times higher and talent ratings 2.5 times higher than the industry average
  • Committed to and engaged with the communities we serve

Q: Right now, are you having trouble filling positions, and if so which ones?

Yes. All of them. Many of the manufacturers we work with are running around 50% of the workforce they typically employ. Obviously, this is tough on productivity, but it also leads to environments that are not as safe, elevated worker’s comp, and general morale issues among the employees. Light industrial staffing (at least in my region) has been the hardest hit. As I mentioned before, prior to the pandemic the economy was roaring, and talent was in demand. When the pandemic hit, those needs didn’t really go away, but the talent did.


Q: In what ways are you trying to recruit / attract employees in this environment?

Grassroots recruiting is very important right now. Getting in front of the talent and helping them get back into the workforce is a big part of what we are doing. We are doing drive-through job fairs, virtual job fairs, and massive recruiting events. In addition, we are coaching our clients on reducing barriers to entry, pay adjustments, and other ways to incentivize employees to come back.





In the first paper of our three-part series presenting a vision for systemic welfare reform in Georgia, we explore the need for a welfare system that starts with the assumption that natural support systems, including individual work and a reliance on family and community assistance, should be the primary sources of help when individuals face financial need. This report demonstrates how the current system does not meet these assumptions and points to the need for reform.


In the second paper of our three-part series presenting a vision for systemic welfare reform in Georgia, we explore the new system as we imagine it could be, give guiding principles, provide a general framework for how the reformed system can function, and establish preliminary steps needed to implement the vision.


In the third and final paper of our three-part series presenting a vision for systemic welfare reform in Georgia, we propose the creation of new, consolidated program modules (including their structure, design, and expected outcomes) to replace current, disjointed programs. We go on to present a structure Georgia’s governor and executive agencies could adopt to effectively and in relatively short order implement a reformed system.


Medical assistance programs have long needed reforms to address high prices and lack of access. Despite the fact that federal policy tends to dominate medical assistance programs, states do have some flexibility to enact reforms. This study explores how states – and particularly Georgia – have flexibility and can experiment with Medicaid, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to improve access, lower costs, and streamline the system to better serve those in need of assistance.


Georgia has suffered from higher unemployment rates and lower high school graduation rates than the national average for many years. This report takes a look at the trends driving those problems and the potential solutions, including apprenticeships, that could lead to greater economic mobility for young adults.

Biden’s ‘Illusions Of Economic Magic’ Fail The Forgotten American | DAILY CALLER

Joining Forces to Get Our Neighbors Employment Ready | SAPORTA REPORT

In The News

Joining Forces to Get Our Neighbors Employment Ready | SAPORTA REPORT

In tandem with finding stable employment, many caregivers and heads of household are dealing with trauma and other socioemotional challenges. That is where Families First comes in. We have developed a screening tool to assess resiliency, a person’s ability to get back out there and their readiness to face life’s challenges. For some it is an immediate transition to work; however, for others there may be a need for coaching, mentoring or behavioral health services from Families First, Georgia Center for Opportunity, Impact46, Crisis to Career or other participating organizations to be successful in a new job…