Originally created 05/25/06

Growth of jobs in area endures



ATLANTA - Augusta's job-creation machine continues to chug along at a modest pace, and a forecast released Wednesday suggests the tempo will continue next year.

The number of workers grew 1 percent during the first three months of the year, less than half the state's overall rate of 2.1 percent. Augusta's rate will be at 1 percent for all of 2006, said the Georgia State University Economic Forecasting Center.

"This continues a positive growth trend seen over the last few years, with fourth quarter of 2005 being the only quarter that posted a loss," wrote economist Rajeev Dhawan, the center's director.

The local boost in leisure and hospitality jobs is part of a statewide rebound in the tourism industry.

"The tourism sector created over 35,000 jobs (statewide) in the last three years and is on track to add the same number over the next three years," Mr. Dhawan said.

This week, the Travel Industry Association estimated the total impact of tourism on the state's 2005 economy at $28.2 billion, up $2 billion from 2004.

More visitors could be enticed because the Georgia Department of Economic Development got a $500,000 increase in its budget for tourism marketing during the recent General Assembly session.

Augusta can look ahead to more hiring at Fort Gordon and food processor Castleberry, accounting for nearly 1,000 jobs between them in the next six years.

Only Augusta's manufacturing sector saw a significant decrease in payroll, jettisoning 800 jobs since the first of this year.

News of layoffs at Atlanta-area automobile plants and with BellSouth combine with Delta Air Lines' troubles to leave a few clouds over the state.

Reach Walter Jones at (404) 589-8424 or walter.jones@morris.com.

LOCAL GROWTH


New jobs in first quarter:


- Government: 640


- Professional and business services: 570


- Leisure and hospitality: 520


- Education and health: 375


- Morris News Service