by T.A. DeFeo
While state officials continue to tout the state’s low unemployment, numbers show nearly 39% percent of Georgia’s working-age population isn’t participating in the workforce.
On Thursday, state officials said Georgia’s August unemployment rate was 3.3%, a slight increase from July’s revised 3.2% rate. The state’s rate is lower than the 3.8% national unemployment rate.
“Georgia’s labor market continues to demonstrate remarkable resilience and strength,” Georgia Labor Commissioner Bruce Thompson said in an announcement. “While we saw a slight increase in the unemployment rate for August, our state remains well-positioned for growth and economic opportunity with an unemployment rate below the national average and plentiful jobs for Georgians.”
However, Georgia’s labor participation rate stands at 61.4%. While the rate is higher than it was in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has steadily decreased over the past 15 years and remains below the national labor participation rate of 62.8%.
Shawna Mercer, director of communications/chief marketing officer for the Georgia Department of Labor, told The Center Square Georgia has the highest labor force participation rate in the South and is 34th nationally.
“After peaking in the early 2000s, the labor force participation rate nationally and in Georgia has been trending downward,” Mercer said in an email. “As we approach 2030, a transformative milestone looms on the horizon. For the first time in U.S. history, the number of residents aged 65 and older will surpass those aged 18 and younger, with one-fifth of the total population reaching the retirement age of 65.
“Georgia’s economic vitality hinges on its ability to adapt and evolve. To ensure Georgia remains a competitive force in the ever-shifting global economy, we must invest in our young talent, fostering a generation of skilled and adaptable workers ready to take on future challenges,” Mercer added. “One key component of this strategy is a robust outreach to the younger workforce, emphasizing the importance of mentorship and equipping emerging generations with the technical skills required for their respective fields and the soft skills, life skills, and trade skills that are vital in shaping a prosperous economy.”
Georgia’s labor force has been a subject of conversation among lawmakers and the state’s businesses, who wonder how they will fill vacant positions. The Peach State has 350,000 job postings but only about 170,000 unemployed Georgians.
The Georgia Senate, for example, has established committees, such as the Senate Study Committee on Expanding Georgia’s Workforce and the Senate Study Committee on Truck Driver Shortages, to address the state’s worker shortage.
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T.A. DeFeo is a contributor to The Center Square.