Metro Atlanta’s workforce grew mightily in 2016

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When our workforce grows, everything else grows with it.

Last year, the Metro Atlanta workforce grew as employers added 70,800 more jobs. As a growth percentage, that puts us as the 10th greatest improvement among the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 51 metropolitan areas.

Our workforce grew by 2.7 percent. In pure numbers, that puts us 4th behind New York-Newark-Jersey City (120,600), Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington (113,500) and Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim (90,000).

For those wondering, the bureau classifies us as Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell.

I’m always interested in how Atlanta compares to other major metropolitan areas in such things. Atlanta has the 10th largest workforce, sitting just barely behind Boston. We have 2.714 million people in our workforce, they have 2.734 million. Their workforce grew by 53,200, or 2.0 percent.

So they may have won the Super Bowl by a painfully slim margin, but we created more jobs. And if we keep growing at the same clip, we’ll have a good chance of having a larger workforce this time next year.

Since I’ve gone this far, I might as well point out that a decent percentage of those new jobs were likely given to people who moved here from Boston.

I know that won’t change the score of the Super Bowl, but it helps ease the pain a little, even though I can already think of one Patriots fan’s E-mail I’m sure I’ll have to read once this article publishes.

In terms of job markets, cost of living and overall work environment, it seems like the Dallas-Fort Worth area is Atlanta’s biggest competitor.

It always seems like when a major company is relocating, Atlanta and Dallas are always in the final mix.

Like Atlanta, Dallas has a diverse economy. You might think of oil when you think of Dallas, but at a time when many oil-based economies around the United States slowed due to low oil prices, the Dallas economy grew more than any other major U.S. metro area in 2015. Also like Atlanta, Dallas is working through its growing pains. Traffic is a fact of life there too. And they have invested heavily in mass transit.

Their DART rail system has five lines shooting out in all directions from downtown Dallas. And they are talking about adding east/west lines connecting the northern metro areas.

As metro areas compete for the coveted younger, millennial workforce, reducing traffic and expanding mass transit has become critical.

With addition of an intown sales tax going directly to MARTA, the system will likely expand with another east-west line. And leaders in North Fulton are working through how to expand mass transit into their areas.

While I think most people up here want mass transit, we are a little divided as to how it should come. As carefully planned as some of our towns are, it’s hard to imagine a gigantic heavy rail station sticking out from one of Alpharetta’s well-manicured exits off Ga. 400.

I’ve heard open talk of light rail and even of an east-west line in the middle of Old Milton Parkway connecting Johns Creek to a potential station at Ga. 400.

Alpharetta State Senator and Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce President Brandon Beach was named Chairman of the Senate’s Transportation Committee for this session.

If you can believe it, this is the first time someone from the metro area has been named to that position. In the past it has always been a senator from one of the rural districts where they don’t have traffic.

Beach has been a strong proponent of bringing Gwinnett and Cobb counties into MARTA. They both have transit systems that dump riders into MARTA, but they do not fund MARTA. If Beach could get them on board, that amount of funding could help propel MARTA past Dallas’s DART.

For now, our economy is growing at a healthy clip. And with more jobs comes more needs for houses, restaurants and other services. Our metro area is a great place to live. Just ask your friend from Boston.


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