Local businessman Rick Doherty, left, speaks with Dean Robert Sumichrast, center, and an unidentified associate of UGA's Terry College of Business at the Hilton Garden Inn Tuesday.
EDITORS NOTE: This is the first of a three-part series on the economic forecast from the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business.
ALBANY, Ga. — The effects of the Great Recession will continue to be felt in 2013 as a largely jobless recovery continues for those in the Albany metro area, officials with the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business said Tuesday.
That doesn’t mean that the Albany area — which includes Dougherty, Lee, Terrell, Baker and Worth counties — won’t continue to see a marked improvement but that the recovery will be stymied by factors such as a drop in population and the lack of a highly-educated work force, Beata Kochut of the Selig Center for Economic Growth said.
On the positive side, the Albany Metroploitan Statistical Area continues to see a falling unemployment rate, and October’s preliminary 9.3 percent rate is the lowest seen since July 2008.
The labor force, however, has also dropped when compared to last year as unemployed workers seeking gainful employment have left the area to find jobs. In total, the labor force has shrunk by 3.2 percent between 2007 and 2011, a number significantly higher than the state average of 1.8 percent. For 2011, more people moved out of the MSA as a percentage of the total population than any other metro area in the state.
That being said, Kochut did point to the month of October, whose preliminary labor statistics show that 1,000 new jobs were added in the MSA.
Retail trade is still the top performer in the local economy, with more jobs expected in the warehousing industry. Manufacturing, she said, held steady, while the big loser in terms of jobs was the government sector, a trend that is likely to continue through 2013.
Kochut said that between 2008 and 2012 K-12 enrollment dropped throughout the area, hospital occupancy went down and the need for some government services has also dropped.
She predicts more government jobs will be trimmed as spending cuts are carried out.
Kochut said 65 percent of exports from the Albany MSA are related either to agriculture, food and beverage production, or general manufacturing.
Between 2008 and 2011, value of the goods produced in the Albany MSA increased by 191 percent, the single largest jump as a percentage in the state.
Kochet said businesses related to the life sciences — health care, agriculture and food manufacturing — will see growth, while general manufacturing will stay about the same.