What are we measuring?
The employment rate is the percentage of the labor force that is employed. It is a lagging indicator; that is, following a recession, the employment rate tends not to grow to any significant extent until the remainder of the economy has recovered. This is because of the high risk and expense of creating jobs. The working age ranges from 15 to 64 years old.
Why is it important?
The flip side of a low employment rate is high unemployment, which exacts costs on the economy, families and individuals. Unemployment can decrease tax revenues for local government through reduced personal spending while increasing the need for health and human services. For the individual, unemployment can lead to financial instability, stress, loss of health insurance, mental and physical health problems, and broken relationships.
How are we doing?
After a precipitous drop triggered by the recession, the employment rate bottomed out in 2009 before beginning a slow steady recovery, finally reaching 95% in March 2017 for the first time in over nine years. In September 2018, the employment rate reached a new nine year high of 96.7%. The latest figure, 96.0% for February 2019, remains high compared to previous years, and though that rate places Fulton County below all but one of its benchmark counties, it falls short of the top ranked counties (Hennepin County, Minnesota and Travis County, Texas) by only 1.1 percentage points.