Houston & Peach

‘Robust’ job market this year for Warner Robins, Macon-Bibb County, labor official says

More people are looking for work in the Warner Robins Metropolitan Statistical Area, according to Georgia Department of Labor statistics released Thursday. But that’s down from the same time last year.

Overall, economic indicators remain positive for the year, says Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler.

“This holiday season we have much to be thankful for,” Butler said in Thursday’s news release. “The job market has been very robust this year. Our communities continue to grow and prosper.”

In the Warner Robins Metropolitan Statistical area, which includes Houston, Peach and Pulaski counties, the unemployment rate increased by 1 percent from 4.4 percent for the month of October from 3.4 percent in September. But overall, that’s down from unemployment rate of 5.2 percent in October 2017.

“Now, when we take a look at those numbers behind the rate increase, the two things we want to key on is initial claims for unemployment which were up significantly going from September to October,” Butler said an audio portion of news release. “However, we’re seeing about 23 percent fewer claims filed this October than we saw the same time last year, which actually is good news as we’re seeing fewer signs of layoffs during this particular time period.”

Initial claims filed jumped from 297 in September to 1,115 in October, according to labor statistics posted on the department’s website. For comparison, initial claims filed in October 2017 were 1,444. That’s a decrease of 329 initial claims over the year, representing a nearly 23 percent drop.

One of the bigger factors behind the rate increase was the “very significant increase” in people joining the labor force, which Butler said is “good news when you consider the fact that we do have a lot of job openings in the Warner Robins area.

“Speaking of jobs, we did see about 100 jobs created in the Warner Robins area from September to October, which brings our yearly total to about 800 more jobs today than we saw this same time last year,” he said.

The report for the Macon-Bibb County MSA, which includes Bibb, Crawford, Jones, Monroe and Twiggs counties, was similar.

The Macon-Bibb County MSA unemployment rate increased 0.6 percent from 3.5 percent in September to 4.1 percent in October. The employment rate was 5 percent in October 2017.

“Now, even though we did see the rate go up, we actually had some good news in this job’s report,” Butler said in another audio clip included in a news release.

Despite an increase in initial claims from 400 in September to 695 in October, most of those are expected to be temporary claims in manufacturing, Butler said. Also, there were 237 few claims this October than last year, representing a more than 25 percent decrease in claims from year to year.

“That just means you’re seeing fewer layoffs this year than you saw last year, which is good news,” he said.

More than 300 jobs were created in the Macon-Bibb County MSA from September to October, which brought the yearly total for job creation in the area to nearly 1,000 more jobs than the same time last year, Baker said.

What’s key to watch is the balance between new unemployment claims and job creation, Butler said. Those numbers tracking pretty closely together is what you want to see in your local economy, he said.

Individuals joining the labor force outpaced the number of jobs created last month in the Warner Robins MSA, but the overall yearly number looked good, Butler said.

“So, we just want to make sure those two numbers are tracking fairly closely to each other going forward in the Warner Robins area,” Butler said.

“Right now, you’re seeing a fairly good balance in the Macon area which is what we want to continue to see,” he said.