ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia’s unemployment rate reached a new all-time low in March, falling to 3.1% as surveys show record numbers of people working in the state.
The jobless rate fell from from the previous record low of 3.2% in February. It was 4.4% in March 2021. The nationwide jobless rate fell to 3.6% in March from 3.8% in February.
Close to 5.1 million people were working in March, while 165,000 Georgians were unemployed and actively seeking work.
Wages are rising in a tight labor market, with the state Labor Department reporting wages 9% higher in February than two years earlier. The state’s labor force was basically flat for more than a year while job opportunities rocketed back from the pandemic-induced plunge. Some signs of growth in early 2022 have emerged, suggesting that demand for workers and rising wages in Georgia may be luring new job-seekers.
Georgia’s jobless rate fell for 19 consecutive months after hitting an all-time high of 12.5% at the start of the pandemic in April 2020. Initial measurements last year had shown Georgia’s unemployment rate dipping as low as 2.6%, but revisions showed those numbers overstated the health of the job market.
The number of workers on employer payrolls — the top labor market measure for many economists — rose by 12,000 in Georgia in March, reaching 4.74 million. That’s 235,000 above payroll levels last year.
Payrolls hit a new all-time high, above their pre-pandemic peak, for the fourth straight month in another sign of Georgia’s full recovery. Payrolls are measured by a survey of employers, separate from the survey of individuals.
The state released the figures Thursday. They are adjusted to cancel out seasonal fluctuations.
″“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,” Labor Commissioner Mark Butler, an elected Republican, said in a statement.
About 4,000 Georgia workers filed for new unemployment benefits in the week ended April 9. New unemployment filings have fallen to pre-pandemic levels in the state.
The overall number of people collecting regular state unemployment was about 74,000 in the week ended March 26.