Unemployment in Georgia fell to its lowest level in nearly 19 years last month despite the loss of 2,100 jobs during September, the Georgia Department of Labor said Thursday.
Although there were no signs of an economy slamming on the brakes, Georgia saw job declines in blue-collar sectors like hospitality and retail, as well as white-collar corporate jobs. Even construction, which had been expanding at a breakneck pace for years, dipped during the month.
During the five previous years, the economy in September added an average of 5,700 jobs across the Peach State. This was only the second time since the Great Recession a decade ago that Georgia payrolls have shed jobs during the month.
September's jobless rate still fell, however, because the number of Georgians seeking jobs fell even more as school restarted this fall.
"September was another strong month," Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said in a statement accompanying the employment report.
Georgia's unemployment rate, which is calculated from a separate survey from the jobs data, fell by a tenth of a percentage point to 3.5%, matching the U.S. jobless rate for the month.
In Tennessee, the jobless rate also fell last month by a tenth of a percentage point to 3.4%, matching the unemployment rate in the state a year earlier but still slightly above the low levels reached this spring.
"Tennessee's unemployment rate continues to hold steady and indicates a healthy statewide economy," Tennessee Labor Commissioner Jeff McCord said in Thursday's employment report.
Jobless in September
* 3.4% in Tennessee, down by 0.1% from August
* 3.5% in Georgia, down 0.1% from August
* 3.5% for the U.S. as a whole, down 0.2% from August
Sources: Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Georgia Department of Labor
Total non-farm employment increased 3,700 jobs between August and September in Tennessee. Over the last year, non-farm employment across Tennessee increased by 48,200 jobs.
A separate household survey showed seasonally adjusted employment in Tennessee rose 3.3% in the past 12 month, adding 103,395 more jobs from September 2018 to September 2019. That was more than double the U.S. job growth rate of 1.5% for the same period, the BLS household surveys show.
Tennessee manufacturing workers appear to be benefiting by the tighter labor market and increased hiring activity. Last month, the median manufacturing wage in Tennessee rose by 25 cents an hour to $20.40 and the work week for the typical factory employee in Tennesssee grew by 0.2 hours to 42.4 hours.
Despite the wage gains in the Volunteer State, Tennessee manufacturing wages, on average, were still 8.3% below the U.S. average wage of $22.25 last month.
In Tennessee, the state's Çareer Centers on Thursday listed 205,812 job openings, which is nearly twice as many open jobs as the 108,475 Tennesseans who were unemployed and looking for work last month, according to the Department of Labor and Workforce Development.