Georgia’s unemployment rate remains flat in February

(The Center Square) — Georgia’s February unemployment rate remained unchanged from the revised January rate, labor officials said Thursday.

State officials said the Peach State’s 3.1% unemployment rate is below the national rate of 3.9%. Last week, state officials said Georgia’s January unemployment rate dropped to 3.1%, the first drop in more than a year after holding at 3.2% in 2023.

“In Georgia, we’re not just keeping pace with the nation – we’re leading the charge in building an ecosystem where businesses and employees not only survive, but thrive,” Georgia Labor Commissioner Bruce Thompson said in a statement. “Georgia’s long-standing track record of excellence and economic opportunity makes the Peach State one of the nation’s top destinations to live, work, and raise a family.”

The Peach State’s labor participation rate stood at 61.4% in January, down from 61.5% in January 2023 and 62.4% in October 2020, after its COVID-19 pandemic rebound.

With the state’s low unemployment rate, finding workers and workforce development have been — and remain — hot-button issues in Georgia.

This week, the House Industry & Labor Subcommittee discussed House Bill 1432, a late-developing bill lawmakers could consider during next year’s session as it didn’t pass a chamber before this year’s Crossover Day deadline. It would establish an annual state-administered guest worker program for workers who hadn’t entered the country illegally.

“As we all know, the federal government is in total disarray when it comes to immigration, and the ones who are suffering because of that are our small businesses and other businesses who have workforce needs that can be filled with a functional guest worker program for legal immigrants,” state Rep. Matt Reeves, R-Duluth, said during the hearing. “This bill would take the lead and set up the infrastructure for Georgia to be able to put a legal guest worker program to work here in Georgia.

“The state is better equipped to determine which jobs are difficult to fill in Georgia and how many positions need to be filled in Georgia, where the shortfall is,” Reeves said. “Existing federal quotas are simply inadequate and insufficient to address our employment needs, our workforce needs in Georgia, as we all see every day.

“We all are concerned about the federal government’s mishandling of the border. And [what] the federal government disarray has done is it’s incentivized people to work under the table and underground, and what we should have in America is an aboveboard employment system where work is performed lawfully at the proper wage rate and in a legal manner.”