Georgia job market still positive, but may be leveling off

The jobless rate in October remained below a year ago, when 3.4% of Georgia workers were unemployed.

David Goldman / AP

Unemployment data shows a Georgia job market that’s still hot but leveling off.

The state’s unemployment rate ticked up to 2.9% in October after three months at an all-time low of 2.8%. And while employers are still adding workers to payrolls, those gains may be slowing.

The jobless rate remained below a year ago, when 3.4% of Georgia workers were unemployed. But the labor force fell for the fourth straight month, while the number of people reporting they had a job fell for the third straight month. The number of Georgians unemployed and seeking work crept up to 152,000 after two months of ultra-low readings below 150,000.

It was the first increase in Georgia’s jobless rate since hitting an all-time high of 12.3% at the start of the pandemic in April 2020.

The number of workers on employer payrolls — the top labor market measure for many economists — rose by 3,000 in Georgia in July, reaching 4.84 million. That’s 204,000 above payroll levels last year.

Payrolls hit a new all-time high for the 11th straight month. Payrolls are measured by a survey of employers, separate from the survey of individuals.

Republican Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said chances of finding a job remain good despite “some isolated layoff events.”

“We are still setting records in multiple sectors highlighting the current favorable hiring environment for Georgians,” Butler said in a statement.

The state released the figures Thursday. They are adjusted to cancel out seasonal fluctuations.

The nationwide unemployment rate rose to 3.7% in October from 3.5% in September. That’s still down from 4.6% a year ago.

About 3,800 Georgia workers filed for new unemployment benefits in the week that ended Nov. 12.

The overall number of people collecting state unemployment was about 23,000 in the week that ended Nov. 5.