The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta reports a bit of counterintuitive unemployment news following a month when displaced workers are expected to have filed a record number of jobless claims – for every ten jobs lost during the coronavirus pandemic, three more were created.
The Fed reported the findings in its latest Survey of Business Uncertainty.
While many Georgians thrown out of work were in the travel and hospitality business, some companies are hiring to respond to high demand caused by the pandemic, including Amazon, Walmart, CVS Healthcare and Domino’s Pizza.
Layoffs since the crisis took hold in Georgia in mid-March largely affected workers in the retail, service and hospitality industries, where pay tends to be low. Laid-off workers able to find new jobs in the COVID-19 economy are likely receiving similar pay, said Kennesaw State University economics professor Roger Tutterow.
“The mixture of jobs gained and jobs lost is going to be different, but I don’t think that the compensation necessarily is radically different,” Tutterow said.
But the spread of layoffs to higher paid workers could mean many out-of-work Georgians who do find new jobs might need to accept steep pay cuts. Recent layoffs at Georgia manufacturers include 700 employees of Savannah’s Gulfstream Aerospace Corp and 120 workers at Adairsville’s VMC Specialty Alloys.
“A lot of the better-compensated jobs in the economy, such as professional business services, are being done remotely, but obviously, any pullback in manufacturing or in the technology industry is problematic because those are very well-compensated jobs,” Tutterow said.
Even with the offsets described in the survey, unemployment is still at historic levels, Tutterow said. Just how bad the downturn is heading should become more clear at the end of the week when the federal government publishes April’s national unemployment figures.
“This Friday will be our first real read on the employment rate with the full effect of COVID-19, because while we did get a unemployment rate for March, the data for that was collected early in middle part of the month before the full weight of the government-imposed shutdowns hit the economy,” Tutterow said.
Economists are largely expecting more bad news from those numbers.
The Atlanta Fed’s researchers found that while over three-quarters of the job reductions in their analysis are temporary layoffs and furloughs, business owners report record high levels of uncertainty about the future, raising doubts about laid-off workers quickly returning to the job.