Seasonal Hiring Increases in Atlanta, But Unemployment Increased

The holiday season is usually a busy time of the year for workers. In most areas of the United States, unemployment drops during the holiday season. That's because so many retailers hire temporary full- and part-time workers to fill cashier, stock, delivery, sales and fulfillment positions. The metropolitan Atlanta area is no exception to the rule for increased seasonal sales jobs. However, the number of unemployed people actually went up this week.

Current Jobless Numbers in Atlanta

Metro Atlanta added jobs for the seventh month in a row in November. This is according to a new report from the Georgia Department of Labor on Thursday, December 24. However, the number of unemployed people actually went up this month. The area's unemployment rate increased from 4.6% to 5.6%. About 21,500 jobs were added to the local economy in November. The largest share of those jobs was in e-commerce. Most of the positions were for seasonal work.

What Happened With the Number of Unemployed Workers

State officials were disappointed to learn that the number of people who filed for unemployment increased by 42,575 in November. That is the number of people who are seeking work. In total, metro Atlanta has lost 85,000 jobs in the past 12 months. There are more people working now than in the spring of this year. The Georgia Labor Commissioner, Mark Butler, said that the numbers are moving in the right direction. He said that the state will continue to fill the jobs that are available in order for the state's economy to get to where it was before COVID-19 was declared to be a pandemic.

What Is Driving the Increase in E-commerce Jobs

A big driver of the job growth was a surge in online ordering. The jobs related to e-commerce, including fulfillment, sorters, packers, forklift operators, delivery drivers and related positions, have grown at a breakneck speed. Trucking and distribution center workers have also increased. Another area that is growing is software development for the programs that warehouse, distribution centers and logistics services use to keep products moving from one place to another.

Online Shopping Continues to Soar

People continue to buy more and more of their goods online. This has spurred an increase in warehousing and delivery jobs in metro Atlanta. Ever since sectors of the economy were shut down in the spring of 2020, people have turned to online shopping. Amazon hired the largest number of workers. Kroger, Walmart and Home Depot also added several thousand workers each for their warehouse, distribution and fulfillment centers.

Types of Jobs on the Rise in Atlanta

In November, transportation and warehousing jobs increased by 8,200. About 50% of those jobs were for couriers and messengers who do last-mile delivery of small items. Retailers added an estimated 10,700 jobs. Most of those were cashier, sales, stocking and janitorial services. Corporations added around 5,100 jobs. Construction jobs grew by about 1,900.

Sectors That Lost Jobs

Several sectors of the economy lost jobs in November. Atlanta employers in the areas of finance, government, leisure, hospitality and manufacturing lost jobs. Even though vaccine distribution has started, officials fear that there will be many more months of high joblessness, unemployment claims and general economic suffering. It will take many more months of social distancing, wearing masks and distributing vaccines until there is a big difference in the return to normal economic activities.

In-person Shopping Continues to Suffer

Employers have been reluctant to hire full-time, permanent employees. Instead, they're turning to temporary workers. The lack of in-person shopping is one reason for that. More than 2,100 temporary workers were hired in the metro Atlanta area in November. In the past, economists would have seen that as a good sign because a lot of temporary workers end up getting offers from their employers for a full-time, permanent job. However, economists aren't so sure that will happen now. Some businesses are trying to mitigate loses by just hiring temporary workers who aren't eligible for benefits.

Looking to the Future

Retail and food jobs might not come back. People are changing their habits. The COVID-19 pandemic may have permanently changed what people do and when and how they do it. Atlanta currently has 176,000 people looking for a job. That number doesn't include the people who have given up, ran out of unemployment or taken part-time jobs. There were more than 102,000 new jobless claims in November.

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