Unemployment fell to a record low in Georgia while Tennessee’s jobless rate remained among the lowest in the country last month, even as more workers joined the job market as the economy continued to rebound after the pandemic.
The Georgia-wide unemployment rate in May fell to 3%, the lowest monthly rate on record, as employment in Peach State increased by 244,100 jobs over the past year to a record high of nearly 4.8 million.
Although Tennessee’s unemployment rate rose a tenth of a percent last month to 3.3%, the increase stemmed entirely from the number of people entering the workforce, outpacing continued job growth in may. Tennessee employers added 121,394 net jobs over the past 12 months, increasing employment 3.8% over the past year to a record high of nearly 3.3 million.
“The job market remains very, very strong, and the increase we’ve seen in unemployment reflects a pretty positive trend of increasing labor force participation as more people join the labor force. “said Bill Fox, director of the Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research. , said in a telephone interview on Thursday.
Tennessee’s labor force participation rate, which measures the share of all adults in the labor force, topped 61% for the first time in more than two years.
But after two years of strong job growth following the pandemic shutdown of the economy, the economy may have hit its zenith creating more jobs, with the Federal Reserve aggressively raising interest rates. interest in curbing inflation and economic growth.
“It’s probably as good as it gets,” said Jeffrey Humphreys, director of the Selig Center for Economic and Market Research at the University of Georgia. “I don’t expect a recession this year, but the Fed’s actions to raise interest rates will certainly slow the growth of the economy this year.”
On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve voted to raise its short-term interest rates by three-quarters of a percent – the biggest increase in interest rates since 1994.
Unemployed in May
by the numbers
— 3% unemployment in Georgia, compared to 3.1% in April
— 3.3% unemployment in Tennessee, compared to 3.2% in April
— 3.6% unemployment for the whole of the United States, unchanged from April
Sources: Georgia Department of Labor, Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
In a phone interview Thursday, Humphreys said Georgia hasn’t been hit as hard as the country as a whole by the pandemic and the state has rebounded faster than many states. Georgia’s unemployment rate remained one of the lowest among the nation’s largest states, second only to Florida.
Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said his office continued to have more job openings than available workers.
“While the state continues to experience a very tight job market, as evidenced by our low unemployment rate, our goal has been to encourage more people to re-enter the workforce,” Butler said in a report Thursday. . “Unless those who chose not to work decide to re-enter the workforce or more people move into the state, additional workers will be scarce.”
In Tennessee, state career centers listed 425,531 job openings on Thursday, nearly four times as many jobs as the 104,635 Tennessee residents counted as unemployed and still looking for work. last month.
In Georgia, over 227,000 jobs are listed online at EmployGeorgia.com, representing a minimum of 310,000 vacancies. Market salaries for jobs listed on Employ Georgia range from $24,000 to $105,000, with a median salary of $45,000.
The tight labor market is driving up wages for workers, Fox said. Average weekly manufacturing earnings in May rose more than 2.1% in Tennessee to $979.62. Though still 4.6% below the U.S. average, wages in Tennessee’s manufacturing sector averaged $22.52 an hour last month, the highest on record.
Separately, the US Department of Labor reported on Thursday that 3,000 fewer Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week. But the four-week average of claims, which dampens some of the week-to-week volatility, rose 2,750 from the previous week, to 218,500.
Although May job growth was healthy nationally, it was the weakest monthly gain in a year, and there were signs that more layoffs could be on the way. horizon.
Online car retailer Carvana said last month it was laying off about 2,500 workers, or around 12% of its workforce. Online property broker Redfin, under pressure from a housing market that has cooled due to rising interest rates, said on Tuesday it was laying off 8% of its employees.
Contact Dave Flessner at [email protected] or 423-757-6340. Follow on Twitter at @dflessner1