Wages go up as unemployment goes down in Georgia

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Georgia’s unemployment rate fell to an all-time low of 3.1% last month, creating a tight labor market that drove up wages.

The jobless rate in Georgia was five-tenths of a percent lower than the national average for March of 3.6%.

“We are now seeing the highest number of Georgians ever employed and participating in the workforce,” state Commissioner of Labor Mark Butler said Thursday. “And with a record number of jobs being created, we have a situation where this will continue to be the case for the immediate future.”

The average wage difference from February 2020 to February 2022 was more than 9%. Some of the industries hardest hit during the pandemic showed wage increases of more than 10%, led by the leisure and hospitality sector, where wages have risen 20.4% in two years.

“Many of the sectors that weathered significant hardships during the pandemic are now having to offer higher wages and better benefit packages to get employees into open positions enabling them to do business,” Butler said. “The cost of labor is being recouped by rising costs for consumers, which is one of the major drivers causing our current increase in inflation.”

The state set records in March with nearly 5.1 million employed Georgians and more than 4.7 million jobs. The sectors with the most over-the-month job gains included professional, scientific, and technical services with a gain of 4,500 jobs; and administrative and support services, which gained 2,000.

First-time unemployment claims were down 14% last month compared to February, while over-the-year claims dropped 87%.

More than 212,000 jobs are listed online at EmployGeorgia.com, resulting in a minimum of more than 310,000 unfilled positions. Industries with more than 10,000 job postings included health care with 33,000 job openings posted, manufacturing with 20,000, and retail trade with 19,000.

This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.

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