The Augusta metro area received its annual Masters Tournament employment bump, with a net gain of 4,700 jobs in April, according to data released Thursday by the Georgia Department of Labor.
Most of the gain was in the hospitality and leisure sector, which added 3,100 jobs last month, with 500 more in retail. Compared with April 2013, there were 1,100 more people working in hospitality and 100 more in retail, according to labor statistics.
“They’ve been getting larger, the boost that we’ve been getting,” said Simon Medcalfe, a finance professor at Georgia Regents University.
In 2008, the number of jobs in retail or hospitality was 47,300. It grew annually to 49,100 in 2011 before dipping in 2012 to 47,900. There were 49,700 people in April 2013 with jobs in retail or hospitality and 50,900 last month.
“We’ll lose some, obviously, because some are truly just short-term positions,” said Medcalfe, the caretaker of the university’s economic and tourism index.
Historically, the April employment bump erodes to pre-Masters levels by June, but not all of the jobs might disappear.
“Leisure and hospitality recently has really been taking off across many different months, not just in April,” Medcalfe said.
Thursday’s job data release also indicated the Augusta area added 1,400 in professional and business services since March, a job category that encompasses everything from call centers to government contractors. There was also a slight gain in construction.
Offsetting the gains were jobs losses in manufacturing, local government and financial activities.
In all, the labor department said there were 221,600 jobs in the metro area last month, about 300 fewer than a year ago, according to its survey of businesses. Self-employed are factored into the unemployment rate statistics, which will be released next week for metro areas in Georgia.
Georgia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for April was 7 percent, unchanged from March.
“We had very strong job growth in April, as our employers created 41,300 new jobs, which is the largest March to April increase since 2005,” said state Labor Commissioner Mark Butler.
The number of jobs in Georgia increased to 4.1 million in April, up 1 percent from March. Like Augusta, most of the job gains came in leisure and hospitality, professional and business services and construction.
“And, to make things even better, more job-seekers are entering the labor force and getting hired. This is a stark contrast to what we’re seeing nationally with hundreds of thousands of people leaving the labor force,” Butler said.
Butler said the U.S. Department of Labor announced last week that 806,000 people left the nation’s workforce in April.
Georgia’s labor force increased from March to April by 11,216. This was the fourth consecutive month the labor force has increased.