Economic recovery can be evaluated by different factors, including gross domestic product, the unemployment rate and sales numbers. One lens through which to view recovery is the rise in employment. How many people are working in a particular industry now compared to pre-pandemic? Which industries have recovered to their pre-pandemic peak employment? Are certain industries or areas recovering more quickly than others? The Selig Center for Economic Growth seeks to shine a light on questions like these by analyzing publicly available data published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
While exploring these data visualizations, note that some industries and areas experienced significant growth since the pandemic trough and in 2021. However, many still have not reached their pre-recession peaks. For example, although employment in the “Food Services and Drinking Places” industry has grown an impressive 47% statewide since April 2020, employment numbers are still down -12% from the pre-recession peak in February 2020. Meanwhile, the nature of industries like “Warehousing and Storage” and “Food and Beverage Stores” allowed them to hire workers while other industries continued to shed jobs throughout the pandemic.
BLS employment data are updated monthly, and revisions to previous months are common with new releases. Because employment in the agricultural sector is often informal, temporary and subject to seasonal fluctuations, employment numbers are often calculated with this industry excluded. Regarding non-farm employment in Georgia, the pre-recession peak appears to have been February 2020, with the low point of the recession, or trough, in April 2020. For these reasons, we are using those two months as benchmarks for comparing the most recent employment numbers. Additionally, we have chosen to compare growth in 2021 using January 2021 as a third benchmark.
In addition to statewide, we also display data for each of Georgia’s 14 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs). According to the U.S. Census Bureau, “The general concept of a metropolitan or micropolitan statistical area is that of a core area containing a substantial population nucleus, together with adjacent communities having a high degree of economic and social integration with that core.” Nearly all of Georgia’s MSAs are comprised of multiple counties. The Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell MSA includes 14 counties. Two of Georgia’s MSAs, Columbus and Augusta, include counties of neighboring states. Data are available for dozens of industries in statewide and large MSAs, while smaller MSAs may be broken into dramatically fewer categories.
These data visualizations were created with Tableau software. You are welcome to download the visualizations as an image, PDF or PowerPoint slide. The underlying data may be downloaded in Excel or CSV by selecting the “Crosstab” option after clicking on the download button.
The download button looks like this , is located in the bottom-right of the Tableau window.
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