(The Center Square) — Georgia’s December unemployment and labor participation rates remained steady, new numbers show.
Labor department officials said the 3.4% rate was unchanged for the fourth consecutive month. The state’s rate remained lower than the national unemployment rate of 3.7%
“Georgia posted incredible numbers in 2023, sporting a blockbuster year with over 5.1 million Georgians employed,” Georgia Labor Commissioner Bruce Thompson said in an announcement. “With existing companies continuing to expand and a stream of new companies calling Georgia home, 2024 appears to be headed for all-time highs again.”
While state officials continue to tout Georgia’s low unemployment, roughly 39% of the state’s working-age population isn’t participating in the workforce. The Peach State’s labor force hit an all-time high of more than 5.4 million people, but the labor force participation was 61.6% for the third consecutive month.
While the rate is higher than during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has steadily decreased over the past 15 years. Expanding the state’s labor force has been a hot topic for Georgia policymakers.
“It’s no secret that Georgia is growing,” Republican Gov. Brian Kemp said in his State of the State address last week. “As the top state for business for a record ten years in a row, new jobs are headed our way on a daily basis, existing businesses are looking to expand, and companies all over the world look to the Peach State to locate their next headquarters.
“But with growth comes the need for more trained workers to fill these good-paying jobs in a rapidly changing labor environment,” the governor added.
Meanwhile, state Reps. Matt Reeves, R-Duluth, and Mesha Mainor, R-Atlanta, have introduced House Bill 926, a measure they say would help expand the state’s workforce. The Second Chance Workforce Act would allow Georgians with “low-level municipal citation and misdemeanor charges” — if they aren’t DUI, reckless driving or child support charges — to keep their driver’s licenses while their cases are adjudicated.
“I hear from people in my district whose ability to drive to work is disrupted by the system,” Mainor said in a statement. “This bill will make sure that there are fewer barriers to people getting to work.”