According to the GDOL Web site, the unemployment rate for the county dropped to 10.9 percent in August, down from 11.3 percent in July. The local jobless rate is still more than 3.5 percent higher than it was last August, with the rate at that time at 7.1 percent.
In terms of the labor force itself, the number of people actively looking for work has fallen by more than 700 from July to August, down from 52,769 to 52,065.
The decrease could be the result of seasonality, said Joey Smith, professor of economics at the University of West Georgia, because school is back in session, and the number of those working or looking for work on a seasonal basis has been reduced. The number of county residents in the labor force should go up in the weeks to come, he said, with more stores hiring workers for the Christmas season and more college and high school students available to work during those months.
But the county’s work force decreased dramatically from August of last year to August of 2009, raising the possibility that more people are uprooting from Carroll County to find work elsewhere, Smith said.
“When you look at the unemployment rates and the labor force, you’re looking at the labor force that’s participating inside the county in the job market, and when those jobs are lost a lot of those people leave the county,” Smith said. “If you can’t find employment locally you have to look elsewhere, and there’s only so far you can travel before you have to uproot your family.”
Smith said the destruction of the Carlisle Tire and Wheel plant in Bowdon from a fire last year, coupled with layoffs at many area businesses, have sent many out of the county to find employment. Altogether, he said, the county has lost more than 1,200 jobs from the first quarter of 2008 through the first quarter of this year. Recent estimates put the total nationwide job losses at 7 million since the recession began in December 2007.
While estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau have the county population rising through 2010 when the next count is established, Smith said these estimates are rarely recalculated during off years when there is no active census being taken and, as a result, the population estimates could be askew.
“Until we get the numbers for 2010, we won’t know, and they usually don’t change their estimation procedure unless something comes in that’s way different than reality,” Smith said. “There’s a good chance that Carroll County is not growing as fast as it was, and some of the folks that live in Carroll County could have moved. Some of the estimated population that was supposed to have moved here might not have made it.”
Smith said only in hindsight will it be known whether the recent drop in the unemployment rate is in fact a possible precursor to rosier economic times. Only when looking at the numbers from one to two years out, Smith said, can it really be known what they mean in the grander scheme.