Job growth in Georgia is going to be a key element to watch in 2012. The state benefited in recent weeks from significant upward revisions of some of the data from late last year.

I’ve been very negative about the state’s job market for a number of years, although last month in my City Talk column I declared myself much more upbeat than the grim forecast from Rajeev Dhawan at Georgia State’s Economic Forecasting Center.

Now there’s some really good news for Atlanta from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, which has analyzed data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to rank the states and metro areas of various sizes. Look at how Atlanta stacks up compared to other metropolitan statistical areas in job growth from January 2011 to January 2012, taking into account the recent upward revisions:

That rate of job growth is far more than enough to match pace with population growth (about twice as fast as would be necessary) and seems consistent with the ongoing gains in state revenue from sales and income taxes.

A few of the report’s highlights at the state level:

North Dakota recorded the largest increase in total nonagricultural jobs in January 2012 over January 2011, with a 6.33 percent increase representing 23,900 jobs.
The largest rate of total nonagricultural jobs lost for January 2012, compared to January 2011, was in Wisconsin, with a 0.72 percent decrease (-19,400 jobs).
Louisiana recorded a job increase (14,700 jobs) in the educational and health services sector, which equaled 5.21 percent growth in January 2012 compared to January 2011.
Michigan recorded 5.32 percent job growth in the manufacturing sector in January 2012 compared to January 2011, which represents 26,000 jobs.
Georgia recorded 7.13 percent job growth in the professional and business services sector in January 2012 compared to January 2011, which represents 37,000 jobs.

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