Smith on Georgia Jobs, Unemployment

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Tom Smith

Job numbers are of increasing concern in Metro Atlanta and Georgia with the official unemployment rate hovering above 9 percent.

Speaking with WABE’s Denis O’Hayer late last week, Goizueta economist Tom Smith said the economy is showing mixed numbers.  Still, Georgia’s unemployment rate is above the national average; it’s numbers on job creation are low.

“Our manufacturing is pretty solid,” Smith told WABE. “We have lots of things going on in that sector. But we’re slowing down in terms of construction, we’re slowing down in new homes [and] we’re slowing down in terms of government projects.”

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Smith is hopeful for positive momentum into the Fall.

“I’ve never seen an economy so anxious to fall into another recession,” he said, noting firms may be reluctant to hire because of additional costs, gloomy forecasts and a newfound ability to “run lean.”

Smith said growth could come in the IT and green technology sectors but it won’t come without more spending by consumers.

“When you think about an economy that’s either growing or shrinking, a big portion of that has to do with consumer confidence,” he said. “How confident are consumers that have money? As they become confident and spend money, firms that benefit from consumers spending money are going to turn around and spend money.”

ABOUT THE EXPERT

Smith (bio) joined Goizueta in 2008. He has held faculty positions at the University of Illinois–Chicago, National-Louis University, Loyola University, and North Central College. Smith received a PhD in labor and demography/cultural economics and policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1998 and holds a BA from Illinois Wesleyan University. He has also served as a consultant for the arts, music and entertainment industry. His expertise is in cultural economics — including sports, arts and religion –  real estate economics and labor economics.

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