Jobs Recovery Underway in the ATL

July 7, 2021

Atlanta is in the first wave of its employment recovery, currently down only 4.7% from pre-pandemic levels. LaborIQ® ranks Atlanta’s job market at 20 out of 150 major markets, based primarily on population growth and relatively low unemployment.

The Atlanta job market is hustling back toward full recovery in 2022.

Population growth is expected to more than double the national average, bringing new workers to fill open jobs. In return, we could see a lift in the construction industry with housing demand is still on the rise. The average annual population growth from 2021 to 2025 will be 1.8%, a cumulative increase of more than 453,000 people over the next four years. In addition to population growth, the Atlanta area will also see a slight uptick in the labor participation rate.

Some industries are on track to fully recover jobs lost by year’s end – Construction and Financial Activities being two of the strongest. LaborIQ forecasts wage growth to rise from 2.9% in 2021 to 3.4% in 2022, and additional wage inflation will occur for some of the most in-demand roles.


Employment in the restaurant and hotel industry, officially tracked as Accommodation and Food Services, is still significantly down compared to pre-pandemic employment strength. However, this sector has recouped almost two-thirds of the jobs it lost during the pandemic. As business travel resumes so will demand on restaurants and hotels, especially now that COVID restrictions lifted completely in Georgia on July 1.

Below are the industries projected to add the most jobs from now through 2022, with quicker growth in 2021 that will taper off into 2022.

The State of Georgia ended additional COVID-related federal unemployment payment programs on June 26, 2021. At that time, it was reported there were around 330,000 people receiving benefits. Moreover, the average unemployment recipient in Georgia was receiving income equivalent to $14/hour for a 40-hour workweek that will now be much lower.

The metro area’s unemployment rate is already very low at just 3.9%, making it difficult for employers to find available talent. The good news is that a combination of people moving to Atlanta and more people entering the labor force should allow for a healthy job gain.

Why It Matters

Atlanta is in a relatively healthy employment position, seeing job growth and population growth, which is helping to moderate the upward pressure on wages. However, with the already low employment rate, talent acquisition professionals may have to look outside the area to fill specialty roles.

Employers in service-focused industries seeking hourly workers may see improvement in the availability of workers. For example, now that restaurants are allowed to operate at full capacity, workers depending primarily on tips can expect a more reliable income. Those workers who stayed home for safety or other personal reasons may no longer be able to afford to do so without the extra unemployment benefits. However, during the pandemic, some people moved on to careers in other industries or simply retired. To bridge the gap, employers may want to consider alternative compensation plans, at least temporarily.


LaborIQ by ThinkWhy forecasts the Atlanta metro to recoup lost jobs across all industries by the end of 2022, with most industries recovering this year. The exception: Leisure and Hospitality, which will take additional years to fully recover.

LaborIQ by ThinkWhy reports, forecasts and advises on employment conditions and the impact to jobs, industries and businesses across all U.S. cities.