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Hall’s unemployment rate rose in November, but workforce is getting bigger
Dept of Labor.jpg
The Georgia Department of Labor office is located at 2756 Atlanta Highway in Gainesville. - photo by Scott Rogers

Update, Dec. 24: The Hall County area's unemployment rose to 3.5% in November, according to a Georgia Department of Labor press release Thursday, Dec. 24.

The release doesn't say what may have caused the increase, but labor officials say Hall saw its workforce grow in November.

“Although the unemployment rate increased across the state, we have held consistently steady numbers in areas such as job growth and employment," Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said. "We will continue to fill the jobs that are currently available, in order for us to move our economy back to where it was pre-pandemic.”

Hall's jobless rate was up over the 2.9% in October and 2.2% a year ago, but the labor force increased by 1,068 and ended the month with 102,033, the department said.

Update, Nov. 27: After reaching an all-time high earlier this year, Hall County’s unemployment rate has settled back near its prepandemic record lows.

And it’s not the only county to do so.

The Georgia Department of Labor announced this week that October’s unemployment rates dropped for all metropolitan areas, regions and counties across Georgia.

Hall’s rate stands at 2.9% after hitting a record high of 10.7% in April and has almost dropped back to the rate of 2.5% from a year ago.

According to GDOL, of the more than 168,000 jobs currently listed on EmployGeorgia, more than half of them advertise annual salaries above $40,000.

The Georgia Department of Labor has paid more than $16 billion in state and federal benefits since the beginning of the pandemic in March of this year. 

Last week, the GDOL issued $153 million in benefits, which include regular unemployment and federally funded Lost Wages Assistance supplements, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation and State Extended Benefits. 

The sectors seeing the most job losses include accommodation and food services, administrative services, health care and social assistance, manufacturing, transportation and warehousing.

Update, Oct. 22: The Hall County area's jobless rate inched up slightly in September to 4%, according to preliminary figures released Thursday, Oct. 22, by the Georgia Department of Labor.

That's just 0.1 percentage points higher than August's rate. A year ago, the rate was 2.4%.

Update, Sept. 24: The Hall County area's jobless rate plunged in August to 3.9%, according to preliminary figures released Thursday, Sept. 24 by the Georgia Department of Labor.

That's 1.7 percentage points lower than the July rate and drawing closer to Hall's unemployment numbers before the COVID-19 pandemic. A year ago, the rate was 2.9%. 

Update, Aug. 27: The Hall County area's jobless rate dipped slightly in July to 5.6%, according to preliminary figures released Thursday, Aug. 27, by the Georgia Department of Labor.

A year ago, the rate was 3.1%.

Update, July 23: Preliminary figures from the Georgia Department of Labor on Thursday, July 23, show the rate in June at 5.9%, down from 7.6% in May, and inching closer to 2019, or pre-coronavirus, numbers. A year ago, the rate was 3.1% and as late as January and February, 2.8%.

The jobless figure hit an all-time high in Hall County at 10.7% in April, or as businesses were shutting down due to the pandemic.

"June continued to show positive growth across all (metropolitan areas)," said Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. “We saw almost all major indicators head in the right direction but continue to work to support Georgia businesses and get Georgians back to work.” 

Some $1 billion in unemployment benefits were issued last week, compared to the $922 million issued over the past three years combined, the labor department also reported on Thursday.

“The fact that we paid more than $1 billion in benefits in five days is a huge accomplishment,” Butler said.  “When you think that the average weekly benefit amount is $246, the sheer volume of payments we are issuing is phenomenal.” 

Since March 21, almost $10.5 billion has been paid to eligible Georgians in unemployment benefits, the agency says.

For those still jobless, an extra $600 in weekly federal unemployment benefits is set to expire at the end of this week. 

The benefit, which was provided by the federal CARES Act, a coronavirus relief law enacted in March, is part of an ongoing debate in Congress on a stimulus funding bill.

Congress is negotiating another aid package that could extend the extra unemployment aid, though likely at less than $600. With the extra $600, roughly two-thirds of the unemployed are receiving more in aid than they earned at their former jobs, research has shown — a finding that’s led Republicans to argue that it is discouraging people from returning to work.

On Thursday, Senate Republicans unveiled a $1 trillion package that would replace the $600 with an amount that would bring a laid-off worker's jobless benefits to 70% of their previous income. Both parties have agreed on another $1,200 stimulus check.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Update, June 25: Hall County jobless rate dropped to 8% in May, as the economy started to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Georgia Department of Labor.

Still, the jobs picture is a far cry from what it was a year ago, when the rate was 2.7%.

“The fact that almost every single monthly indicator in May’s job market report was positive shows great promise to Georgia’s economy up ahead,” Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said. “Seeing these monthly numbers begin to increase means that we are definitely heading back in the right direction.” 

Update, May 28: The Hall County area's unemployment rate hit 10.6% in April, an all-time high, according to the Georgia Department of Labor on Thursday, May 28.

The high number is due to jobless claims being filed as a result of businesses shutting down during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In April 2019, Hall’s jobless rate was 2.6%.

Hall’s jobless rate increased by more than 7 percentage points between March and April 2020. The rate in March was 3.4%, according to the labor department.

The jobless trend is statewide, with labor officials announcing record high jobless numbers in metro areas across the state.

Hall’s jobless rate is eclipsed by other areas, with the highest rate at 20.1% in Murray County. Elsewhere across the state, percentages are in the teens.

“We are continuing to work with employers on effective strategies to get Georgians back to work in both a safe and economically efficient way,” Commissioner Mark Butler said.

Previous article: The Hall County area’s jobless rate climbed to 3.4% in March, compared to 3% at this time last year, as jobless claims piled up because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Gainesville finished the month with 99,375 employed residents, 1,576 fewer than in February but up by 509 when compared to March 2019, according to a Georgia Department of Labor news release on Thursday, April 23.

The number of unemployment claims went up by 1,655% in March, “which directly correlated with the number of temporary layoffs associated with COVID-19,” the release said.

When compared to last March, claims were up by about 1,547%.

The jobless trend is statewide, with the number of initial jobless claims reaching an all-time high, Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said April 16.

The department said Thursday it has processed nearly 1.1 million claims in the past month, more than the combined total for the previous three years.

“Even if we added 10,000 people today that were trained to answer the phone, we would still not be able to keep up with the volume we’re having right now,” Butler told reporters in a briefing Thursday afternoon. “When you’re talking about this many claims, it is not unreasonable to think that there’s 200,000 trying to call us at any given moment of any given day.”

The current jobless rate for Georgia is 4.2 percent and the national rate is 4.4%, according to the labor department’s website.

So, Hall County is faring much better, on average, than the rest of the state.

“Having a diversified business community helps buffer our local economy from the worst part of an economic downturn,” said Tim Evans, the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce’s vice president of economic development.

Gainesville-Hall County has a broad base of manufacturing, professional services and health care services.

“Some businesses will be more able to adapt and weather this economy more than others,” Evans said.

Also, Gainesville-Hall “is fortunate to have a large number of essential businesses in manufacturing, food processing, logistics and some consumer retail and professional services.”

Still, “there are business sectors that will feel the brunt of the pandemic, including hospitality, personal services, dine-in restaurants and destination retail centers like shopping and outlet malls,” Evans said.

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