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COSTAR INSIGHT -Atlanta Posts Steady Job Gains in March

Region Is Primed for Strong Spring and Summer Job Growth

By David Kahn CoStar Analytics April 19, 2021 | 2:07 P.M.

Atlanta added about 15,000 jobs in March, roughly the same number of jobs the region gained in February. While these monthly figures are well below the job gains Atlanta posted at the start of the coronavirus recovery last year, the numbers represent steady improvement for the region.

Nearly all sectors either posted employment gains or were flat last month, with only the trade, transportation and utilities industry shedding a few hundred jobs.

Leisure and hospitality posted the strongest monthly gains in March, as hotels and restaurants across Atlanta continued to reopen and rehire. Professional and business services employment was up around 2,600 jobs on the month, and the construction sector is nearly back to pre-pandemic levels as single-family housing starts are up and the region’s commercial construction pipeline remains steady.

With vaccination rates rising, the state of Georgia rolling back nearly all coronavirus restrictions and the national economy continuing to recover, Atlanta is likely primed for exceptional employment growth over the next few months.

Furthermore, Atlanta is set to add thousands of office-using jobs from firms such as Microsoft, Google and Norfolk Southern, as well as thousands of industrial jobs over the next few months.

While recent monthly job gains are a positive sign for Atlanta, the region still has a long way to go before it reaches pre-pandemic employment. Total employment in Atlanta is still about 5% below the February 2020 peak. For context, the number of employed workers in Atlanta is now roughly equal to levels seen in early 2017.

Looking forward, it will be important to look at job growth numbers on a month-over-month basis, as well as employment compared to the region’s pre-pandemic peak.

Year-over-year figures, which are traditionally useful for analyzing job growth numbers in a given metropolitan area, will be heavily skewed over the next few months due to the effects of the pandemic. Expect headline year-over-year job growth numbers to come in at record levels over the next few months, as these annual gains will represent employment relative to some of the worst employment figures in the past century.

Therefore, monthly employment gains and employment levels relative to February 2020 figures will provide a more realistic look at Atlanta’s economic recovery over the next few months.

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