A recent report from the Georgia Department of Labor shows that unemployment is on the rise in metro Brunswick. Figures indicate that unemployment in July climbed to 9.2 percent, up from June's rate of 8.6 percent.
But Don Mathews, local economist and professor at College of Coastal Georgia, isn't troubled by the report itself. He says that monthly changes aren't necessarily indicative of a problem.
"I don't get too worked up about month-to-month movements in local labor market numbers, especially for June and July and December and January. There are lots of seasonal factors at work during those months that disguise the general trend," he said.
The Department of Labor's report is in line with Mathews' opinion. It mentions the July rate increase is primarily due to seasonal factors, like temporary layoffs in educational services and manufacturing. However, it states, most of the laid-off workers have returned to their jobs.
There were 40,700 jobs in Brunswick in July, up by 100 from June with primary gains in trade, transportation and warehousing.
There were 498 new claims for unemployment insurance filed in July, an increase of 198, or 66 percent, from 300 in June. The report notes that this increase was due to temporary layoffs in manufacturing. There were 561 claims filed in July 2013, which is down 11.2 percent this year. While monthly numbers don't worry Mathews, he does take annual changes seriously. From that perspective, the rate 9.5 experienced in July 2013 is higher than the 2014 figure. Even so, Mathews does see some cause for concern in the report.
"Year-to-year numbers are another matter. I take those seriously, and what we see in the most recent report is a continued shrinking of the local labor force. According to the report, the labor force of the Brunswick (region) fell by 1,513 from July 2013 to July 2014. That's a 3 percent decrease in just one year," he said.
"My view is that much of our labor market trouble is a symptom of our lack of industrial diversity. It's nice to have St. Simons and the ocean, but it takes a whole lot more than tourism and real estate to make a thriving, dynamic local economy."
The Brunswick News