Report Shows Mixed Results on Economy

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The most recent U.S. jobs report showed that the nation’s economy added its highest number of jobs in four years, but the national unemployment rate remains stubbornly high. For the West Georgia region, the jobless rate lingers above the state and national averages, suggesting that the region faces a greater challenge in exiting the recession, according to UWG’s Center for Business and Economic Research.

As of March, the unemployment rate in each of the five West Georgia counties exceeded the state rate of 10.4 percent.

Carroll County had the highest unemployment rate at 11.6 percent while Coweta had the lowest rate at 10.8.

On a positive note, initial claims for unemployment are down in the West Georgia Region in March suggesting fewer individuals are filing for unemployment benefits.

For the region as a whole, initial claims are down by 14.9 percent in March 2010 compared to March 2009.

Over the same period of time, the state as a whole has seen new filings drop by a more robust 28.1 percent.

The economic struggles for the region are clearly related to its greater dependence on the goods-producing sectors of construction and manufacturing.  Employment in goods-production in the West Georgia Region plummeted in 2009.  The nosedive in single- family housing construction activity contributed significantly to this employment drop.  Overall, single-family permit activity was 53.3 percent lower in 2009 compared to 2008.

Thus far in 2010, the region has seen a modest uptick in permit activity.  A total of 209 single-family units were permitted in the first three months of 2010 compared to 169 units for the same period in 2009.  The regional gain is centered in Coweta County, which sustained a 190 percent increase in housing activity in the first three months of 2010 (122 permits in Jan.-March 2010 vs. 42 permits in Jan.-March 2009).

While the health care sector is experiencing significant expansion in the region, other sectors are more directly experiencing the negative impacts of the recession.  State budget cutbacks have resulted in layoffs in all of the public school systems in the region.  Two banks in the region, First National Bank of Georgia and McIntosh Commercial Bank, both based in Carrollton, recently failed.  In one positive development, Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. announced plans to transfer its all-terrain vehicle (ATV) production currently in Japan to Newnan.  This will impact production at the Yamaha plant beginning in early 2011.

Read the full report by the Center for Business and Economic Research here.