Layoffs up this year in metro Atlanta compared to 2011, but still pale next to 2002 for city and 1998 for state

By David Pendered

A glance at a few state reports about layoffs in metro Atlanta over the past decade shows some interesting trends.

Snapshot of Layoffs

Snapshot of Layoffs. Credit: Georgia Department of Labor; David Pendered

The number of layoffs reported to the state Labor Department is trending up this year, compared to 2011. This year’s increase, through mid August, bucks a four-year trend of fewer layoffs over the course of each year going back to the start of the recession.

Meanwhile, Georgia’s cities aren’t necessarily the places to find work. Just six of Georgia’s 14 metropolitan areas have a lower unemployment rate than the state average of 9.6 percent, according to the Labor Department. Atlanta’s one of the six, with an unemployment rate of 9.3 percent.

The other metro areas with unemployment rates lower than the rest of the state are: Athens/Clarke County; Gainesville; Savannah; Valdosta; and Warner Robins. The unemployment rates are preliminary figures for June and have not been seasonally adjusted. The state provides a seasonally adjusted rate for only the statewide rate.

The employment figures are especially relevant in light of the looming presidential battle over varying approaches to create jobs.

Georgia isn’t a battleground state, and as such its unique labor situation may not reach a national audience unless the candidates make it part of the contest.

But it’s worth remembering that Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, carried just 26 percent of the vote in Georgia’s presidential primary election. Newt Gingrich, the presumptive native son, swept 47 percent of the vote.

The layoffs report for metro Atlanta cover a 10-county area, the same 10 counties that voted on, and rejected, the proposed transportation sales tax.

So far this year, an estimated 2,760 layoffs in metro Atlanta have been reported to the state Labor Department. That’s about 500 more layoffs than were reported at this time in 2011.

This year’s layoffs in metro Atlanta account for more than half the layoffs reported statewide. The number of layoffs reported in Georgia year-to-date is 4,846 jobs.

Companies large and small have been laying off workers in 2012.

They include 195 in April by Wendy’s in Atlanta; 62 in May by Waste Management in Alpharetta; 57 in March by Bank of America in College Park; 34 in January by Ryder in Lawrenceville; and 141 in January in Atlanta/DeKalb by Bloomingdales.

The number of layoffs reported in each case was typical of the number reported by companies during the same period last year. One difference is that last year, there were 27 separate announcements of layoffs, compared to 29 so far this year.

Still, the layoffs pale in comparison to past years.

Take 1998: Georgia lost 18,026 jobs to layoffs.

Textiles, manufacturing and light industry led the losses: 300 layoffs at GCO Apparel in Carroll County; 500 layoffs at Springs Industries in Griffin; 350 at Quebecor Printing in Atlanta; and 300 at Atlantic Steel Industry in Atlanta.

Consider 2002: Metro Atlanta lost 12,601 jobs to layoffs.

Aviation, logistics and the city of Atlanta led the losses: 1,025 layoffs at Delta in Atlanta; 1,617 layoffs at Northwest Airlines in Atlanta; 680 layoffs at Consolidated Freightways in Norcross and Ellenwood; and 749 at the city of Atlanta.

 

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

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