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Ga., S.C. employment picture improves to pre-pandemic levels

Published: Aug. 20, 2021 at 2:05 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Georgia and South Carolina employment numbers are showing enough improvement to reach pre-pandemic benchmarks, according to the latest figures released by state labor officials.

In Georgia

Georgia employers continued to add to payrolls at a fast clip in July as the state’s unemployment rate fell below 4 percent for the first time since the pandemic began.

It was the 15th straight month that the state’s jobless rate decreased, falling to 3.7 percent from 4 percent in June.

The state’s jobless rate was 7.6 percent in July 2020.

With the number of unemployed people falling to about 193,000 in July, it was the first time the total number of jobless people fell below 200,000 in Georgia since the start of the pandemic.

Employer payrolls rose to 4.57 million. That was Georgia’s second big monthly jump in a row.

“After ending Georgia’s participation in the federal unemployment insurance programs in June, the state has seen growth of almost 84,000 jobs and has seen a 300 percent increase in the number of people employed from June to July,” said Labor Commissioner Mark Butler.

Sectors with the most over-the-month job gains included:

  • Accommodation and food services, 15,200
  • Administrative and support services, 7,100
  • Local government, 2,900
  • Real estate and rental and leasing, 2,200
  • Health care and social assistance, 2,100
  • Wholesale trade, 2,000
  • Retail trade, 2,000
  • Professional, scientific and technical services, 1,800
  • Finance and insurance, 1,200
  • Non-durable goods manufacturing, 1,100

In July, there were 959,300 jobs in trade, transportation and utilities, an all-time high, and 251,900 jobs in the transportation and warehousing sector, an all-time high. Also reaching all-time highs were 742,000 jobs in professional and business services, 291,900 jobs in the professional, scientific and technical sector, and 364,200 jobs in the administrative and support services sector.

In South Carolina

State employment officials say South Carolina’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for July fell two tenths of a point from June.

The Department of Employment and Workforce reported the July unemployment rate as 4.3 percent, down from June’s 4.5 percent.

Seasonal adjustment removes the effects of events that follow a more or less regular pattern, such as tourist-related hiring and school closings over the summer.

Department Executive Director Dan Ellzey said the growth in employment continues to demonstrate the state’s recovery and progress.

“Total employment now tops the pre-pandemic level of February 2020,” he said, adding that 2.3 million people were working in the state of South Carolina in July.

“That is 10,217 more individuals working than in June of this year. It is also 168 more than in February of 2020. Consequently, the state’s unemployment rate dropped from 4.5 percent in June to 4.3 percent in July, well below the national unemployment rate of 5.4 percent and below the 5.0 percent benchmark that has historically been defined as ‘full employment.’ In fact, South Carolina has been at or under full employment for the last four months,”

The department estimated the number of South Carolinians working increased “significantly” to 2.2 million, an increase of 10,217 over the June 2021 estimate and an increase of 55,704 over the July 2020 estimate.

Unemployment data released Friday states the number of people unemployed in the state dropped 3,603 since June to a total of 103,464.

“Employers are full speed ahead with recovery as well. Hiring has picked back up in the leisure and hospitality industry, which was the hardest hit by the pandemic. Having experienced a 46% loss in jobs at the height of the pandemic, leisure and hospitality has rebounded and is now only 10 percent behind where they were in February of 2020,” Ellzey said.

Gov. Henry McMaster ordered SCDEW to end the payout of federal benefits at the end of June, a move designed to address the state’s labor shortage and get more workers back on the job.

From reports by WRDW/WAGT, WIS and The Associated Press