With Recession, Georgia Unemployment Levels Hit Peak in 2008

2008 proved to be a rough year for employment. On average, unemployment rates rose 2.6% from 2000 and then fell an average of 3.5% before the 2016 measures were taken. These higher than usual unemployment rates can be attributed to the Great Recession that took place between December 2007 and June 2009. Despite this recession, unemployment rates still fell over 1.7% from 2000 to 2016, indicating an overall positive trend.

In looking at these numbers on maps, one can see that 2008 truly is an outlier year. These maps use color to indicate the level of unemployment with dark blue being the lowest and dark red being the highest. Maps for the years 2000 and 2016 both show geographic trends. In 2000, we see that north Georgia has relatively low unemployment rates with the higher unemployment rates being found in middle and south Georgia. The 2016 map is relatively similar; for the most part, the northern part of the state, especially metro Atlanta, has low unemployment rates while the mid part of the state sees the highest rates of unemployment. Unlike 2000, southeast and parts of southwest Georgia have much lower unemployment rates. These geographic trends are expected as industry differs across the state. Should 2008 have been a more typical year, we would expect to see some of the same kinds of geographic trends. Instead, we see that various parts of the state were more highly impacted by the recession than others. While 2008 is somewhat of an outlier to begin with, Jenkins county took a much bigger hit than anyone else with an unemployment rate of almost 16% in 2008.

Jenkins county falls in the bottom 10% of Georgia counties in terms of population, so the unemployment rate is already more prone to fluctuate than that of larger counties. However, in addition to losing 229 between 2000 and 2008, the county also lost 860 members of their workforce. According to the county’s website, over 20% of the workforce is employed in either the retail trade or the recreation/hospitality industries. Given that these industries aren’t often seen as “necessities,” it can be reasoned that they would take a bigger hit in a recession.