Georgia’s plummeting labor force participation rate

Last week, I made a wonky post to Peach Pundit about the labor force participation rate in the U.S. generally and in Georgia specifically: A closer look at the declining labor force participation rate in Georgia

The most recent numbers are pretty grim. As I noted in the post:

In November 2013, every single metro area in Georgia had a smaller labor force than in November 2012. Only one metro area — Atlanta — had more “employed persons,” as defined by the household survey, than a year earlier.

According to the jobs calculator at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, Georgia’s labor force participation rate peaked at over 70 percent around 2000 and has fallen to 62.4 percent now.

That’s a dramatic decline — much more dramatic than the national decline of less than 5 percent over the same time period.

Check out this graph from Calculated Risk:


So why has the labor force participation rate in Georgia declined so much faster than in the nation as a whole?

It’s a puzzle. In terms of demographics, we have certainly attracted more retirees, which would put downward pressure on the rate, but not anywhere near this sort of decline. We have a growing Latino population — and that’s the major ethnic group with the highest participation rate.

I suspect that we’re seeing a dramatic decline in productivity and in job offerings in more rural areas of the state, in part because of austerity policies in the wake of the deep recession.

Whatever the cause, it’s ugly. I’ll be writing more about this at some point, I’m sure.