The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) announced yesterday that Georgia’s May unemployment rate dropped another 0.2 percentage points to reach 4.1 percent in May as the labor force declined 12,478 to reach a total of 5,160,501. The labor force increased gradually during the first quarter of 2021, but dropped in May despite the lifting of many pandemic restrictions and an increase in the state’s vaccination rates. Georgia’s employed residents in May saw a decrease of 2,292, reaching a total of 4,948,784, and the number of unemployed dropped 10,186 for a total of 211,717.
“Although the unemployment rate has continued to trend downward for the past thirteen months, the focus should not be on the rate,” said Commissioner Mark Butler. “We have a serious workforce issue reflected in the monthly drop in the labor force. We are looking to reemploy Georgians as a critical component for our economic recovery.”
The state’s labor force participation rate for May 2021 was 61.8 percent, maintaining a flat rate since October 2020 when the rate was 61.7 percent. The labor force participation rate is defined as the percentage of the population old enough to work currently counted in the labor force. This rate measures how many Georgians are working or seeking work and is reflective of the total sum of unemployed and employed workers. Those identified as unemployed, but have not looked for a job in the past month, are not considered to be in the work force.
“If today’s labor force participation rate matched that of March 2020 when the rate was 62.9 percent, 45,000 more people would be in the labor force and the unemployment rate would be 5 percent instead of 4.1 percent,” said Commissioner Butler. “With the amount of jobs listed in Employ Georgia combined with the number of employers I am hearing from daily who are struggling to find employees, we need to see our labor force increase dramatically.”
Jobs in May increased by 7,000, reaching a total of 4,481,100. This number is up 295,800 compared to the same time last year. Since April 2020, 424,100 (70 percent) of the 609,500 jobs lost in March 2020 and April 2020 have been gained back.
The jobs listed online at Employ Georgia exceed 233,000 job listings — more than triple the amount of the 70,000 listings in April of 2020. Almost three fourths of these jobs show salaries above $30,000. In many cases, employers are willing to train quality candidates and assist with obtainingadditional credentials. The sectors with the most over-the-month job gains included Health Care and Social Assistance, 2,900, Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services, 2,100, Educational Services, 2,000, Administrative and Support Services, 1,700, Non-Durable Goods Manufacturing, 1,500, and Accommodation and Food Services, 1,500.
The GDOL has paid more than $22 billion in state and federal benefits in the past sixtyfive weeks. Last week, the GDOL issued $163million in benefits, which included regular unemployment and federally funded Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) supplements, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), and State Extended Benefits.
Since week ending March 21, 2020, 4,897,767 regular UI initial claims have been processed, more than the ten years prior to the pandemic combined (4.8 million). Last week, regular UI initial claims totaled 22,524, up 284 over the week. Initial claims are defined as any notice of unemployment filed to request a determination of entitlement to or eligibility of unemployment insurance compensation OR to begin a second or subsequent period of eligibility within a benefit year. Initial claims numbers are not a direct correlation to layoffs. Additionally, the agency currently has 167,298 active PUA claims.
The industries with the most claims for the week included accommodation and food services, administrative and support services, and retail trade.
Resources for reemployment assistance along with Information on filing an unemployment claim and details on how employers can file partial claims can be found on the agency’s webpage at dol.georgia.gov.
For more information on jobs and current labor force data, visit the Georgia Labor Force Market Explorer at www.explorer.gdol.ga.gov to view a comprehensive report.