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The Savannah metro area, which includes Chatham, Bryan and Effingham counties, saw its unemployment rate drop to 4.9 percent in November. This was its lowest level since May of 2008. It stood at 6.1 percent last November and 5.3 percent in October of 2015.

Initial unemployment insurance claims for Savannah dropped 3.9 percent, from 847 to 819. However, the number of unemployment insurance claims did rise 2.8 percent from October of 2015. Many of the new claims came from those working in administrative an support services.

Savannah was the only metro area in Georgia that had it’s unemployment claims go down from November of 2014 to November of 2015.

Savannah Jobs Increase by Nearly 174,000

The Georgia Department of Labor also revealed that the Savannah metro area had a total of 173,900 non-farm payroll jobs in November. This was 2.4 percent increase from the 169,900 jobs in November 2014. The key finding is that the rate of jobs are increasing faster than the area’s population.

During the year, Savannah added 4,000 new jobs. Professional and business services led the way, gaining 2,400 jobs, followed by retail trade, transportation and warehousing. Manufacturers added 700 jobs. These additions offset the 1.6 percent decline in leisure and hospitality jobs. Government employment remained flat.

Georgia Jobs

Metro Gainesville led Georgia with a jobless rate of 4.2 percent and the Heart of Georgia-Altamaha region suffered the highest at 6.8 percent.

Georgia’s overall seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate for November fell slightly from 5.7 percent to 5.6 percent. The rate was 6.7 percent in November of 2014. Over the year, Georgia gained 93,000, which is a 2.2 percent job increase, besting the national average.

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Screen Shot 2016-01-08 at 11.59.23 AMUS economists expected moderate job growth in December of 2015, but instead the US economy roared ahead, adding 292,000 jobs for the month. The unemployment rate held steady at 5 percent.

Over the course of 2015, the US economy added 221,000, on average, per month. While this is a drop from 2014, when jobs grew at an average rate of 260,000 non-farm jobs per month, it still marks one of the better years for job additions in the last 16 years.

The October jobs report was also revised upwards, making it an even better month for job gains than it once appeared, as 307,000 jobs were added. This made October the strongest month for job growth in 2015. November job gains also went up according to recent revisions. That means 50,000 more jobs were added than was initially thought. And that makes Q4 (October, November and December) the best 3-month run for job gains in 2015.

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Unemployment Rate Stays at 5%

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As mentioned above, the unemployment rate remained flat, coming in at 5 percent. Many economists think it will stay around that level for the foreseeable future. The U.S. unemployment rate has not fallen below 5 percent since 2007.

Wages Stay Low

Unfortunately for some workers, wages did not see much improvement. Average hourly earnings increased by 2.5 percent,but the Fed says 3.5 percent is the optimum target level.  Fed officials and economists had hoped that a tighter labor market would raise wages closer to that level.

Labor-Force Participation Stays Low 

The Labor-force participation (which measures the percentage of the labor force that is actually employed or looking for employment) ticked up slightly, but it still stands at its lowest level (62.6%) since since 1977. There are also a lot of workers who have taken part-time positions because they couldn’t find full-time jobs.

Summing It Up

Job increases and the unemployment rate signal that the economy is moving in the right direction. But rising wages, greater labor force participation, and more full-time employees in 2016, would indicate the economy is transitioning from a “tentative” recovery to a more robust and long-lasting one.

-Lisa Yannett

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