Opinion

Job stats a mixed bag for our area

The jobless rate in Georgia has fallen to its lowest level in almost 10 years, according to the latest report from the state Department of Labor. That’s undiluted good news by any measure.

Georgia’s businesses and industries “continue to create jobs and put record numbers of people to work,” State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said in a statement. “We now have record highs for the number of employed individuals, the labor force size and total number of jobs in Georgia.”

Employers in Columbus are creating jobs, too. But as Ledger-Enquirer business writer Tony Adams documented in a recent report, the rate of job growth here is considerably slower. And that’s among the better local job figures, at least for now.

Statewide, just about all the trends are positive. Georgia’s June unemployment rate fell half a percentage point from the same month last year, from 5.3 to 4.8 percent — the lowest it’s been since before the Great Recession. In the month of June alone, the Labor Department reported, the state’s job pool grew by 27,400, almost twice the usual month-to-month growth rate during the same span in the last three years

Over that same year, 122,600 jobs have been created in the state. The largest single sector was professional and business services, followed by leisure and hospitality — the latter a clear sign that people have more discretionary income and are spending more of it here, certainly a positive economic indicator.

At the local level the numbers are less rosy, at least for Columbus and a few other second-tier cities. Columbus added only about 700 jobs to that six-digit statewide gain, topping only three other metro areas. Augusta added more than five times that many jobs over the last year, Savannah more than four times as many.

More concerning is that while first-time filings for unemployment compensation are down statewide, they rose slightly in Columbus.

As Adams reported, June unemployment rates for the state’s metro areas will be released soon. That might tell us more about just how much Columbus is missing out.

Just because

It’s easy to understand why the Facebook video of a dozen or so young men cleaning up around the town of Butler, our neighbor to the east, has become a nationwide hit:

People just don’t do stuff like that very often.

You’ve probably seen it and/or read the story. A man driving by noticed these guys picking up garbage around the neighborhood. He asked them why.

“It just feels good to give back to the community,” one answered.

They had gotten together and talked among themselves, come up with the idea, bought trash bags and rubber gloves with their own money, and set out to make the town a better and prettier place, just for the sake of what another volunteer called “free will and good spirit.”

The free will was theirs. The spirit is something they’ve shared perhaps more than they know.

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