Savannah area unemployment up year-over-year, but so are jobs

I’ve already posted about the misleading explanation by Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler for the statewide uptick in the unemployment rate to 9.9% in June. Butler blamed seasonal factors for data that has already been seasonally adjusted.

Now the state has released its data on unemployment rates for various regions and metro areas in the state. That data is NOT seasonally adjusted, for reasons that I don’t understand, so there’s considerable seasonal volatility. In the Savannah metro area, the unadjusted employment rate in June jumped to 9.5% from 8.5% in May. Because of seasonal factors, that’s no surprise.

But, disturbingly, the June rate is up from 8.8% last June. It’s possible that we might be seeing nothing more than statistical noise. Last year, there was a large spike in July (all the way to 10%) but relatively little spike in June. I’m guessing that a month from now when the July data is released, we’ll see a number close to last year’s.

The good news in the June data was released a couple of weeks ago: the Savannah metro area added 1,000 jobs year-over-year. That’s not enough to make up for ordinary population growth, but it’s better than going backward.

According to the Ga. Department of Labor, the private sector in the Savannah metro area added 1,400 jobs year-over-year, while 400 government jobs were lost (the breakdown: 500 federal jobs lost, 400 local jobs lost, 500 state jobs added). The slight overall gains were pretty evenly spread around various sectors, but it’s worth noting that there was a year-over-year loss of about 300 jobs in mining, logging, and construction — about 5% of that sector. We should see construction job losses bottom out soon, if they have not already.

The reason the unemployment rate was up year-over-year was that the additional jobs were not enough to offset the increase in the size of the labor force (those looking for jobs).