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Employment Outlook: Atlanta

by Mary Anne Thompson, Founder and President, Goinglobal, Inc

One of the U.S.’s largest cities, Atlanta continues to see economic growth, diverse job opportunities and high salaries. 

The Atlanta metro region consists of 29 counties and is the nation’s ninth-largest metropolitan area. Despite its Southern flair, Atlanta has always been more of a commercial city than an antebellum monument. Its diverse economy, top-notch educational institutions, and young, educated workforce provide an inviting venue for both multinational corporations and entrepreneurial start-ups alike. 

It’s a great time to live and work in Atlanta right now. The city has recently been ranked among the top ten ‘Best Places for Business and Career’ by Forbes. It is also ranked among the top 20 metros to start a business by CNBC and one of the top cities for millennials based on cost of living, diversity, youthfulness, and crime and safety. 

Key Industries 

The Atlanta metro region is home to 25 Fortune 1,000 companies – 16 of which are Fortune 500 companies. In fact, Atlanta has more Fortune 500 headquarters than any other US city except for Houston and New York. 

The key to Atlanta’s economy is its diversity. Traditional industries, such as manufacturing and transportation, are fueling the area’s burgeoning international trade industry and its successful distribution and logistics sector. Atlanta’s financial and educational institutions provide financial and research support to area businesses. Health care, itself a growing industry, has fostered a budding bioscience sector. The presence of a strong health care industry also has helped promote Atlanta’s emerging health IT cluster – one of the more promising subsectors produced by Atlanta’s thriving technology industry. Turner Broadcasting Systems and Cox Media Group have made the city a globally recognized media and entertainment center, which in turn has helped fuel Atlanta’s growing film and tourism industries. 

Areas of Job Promise 

Currently, unemployment in the Atlanta metro area stands at 4.5 percent. Its unemployment rate is lower than the state of Georgia’s 4.9 percent, but it’s higher than the national 4.3 percent jobless rate. 

Job growth is expected to increase by 2.1 percent, spurred in large part by professional and business services, the housing industry, fintech and health care. Atlanta’s education, health care and manufacturing sectors also are thriving. In fact, a recent report from the Brookings Institution ranked Atlanta 20th for job growth of the top 100 best-performing metropolitan economies in the US. 

As the regional center of commerce for the Southeast, Atlanta’s economy has something for everyone. Nearly every major business sector has a footprint in the city, though certain skills are currently more in demand than others. Jobs in highest demand this year in Atlanta are in technology, according to major recruiting and staffing firm Randstad. 

In the short term, Metro Atlanta should expect to see healthy job growth. According to a recent Manpower Employment Outlook Survey: 

  • 28 percent of employers expect to increase staff levels
  • 3 percent of employers expect to decrease staff levels
  • 64 percent plan to maintain current levels
  • 5 percent are unsure of their plans 

Job prospects appear best in construction, durable and nondurable goods manufacturing, transportation and utilities, wholesale and retail trade, information, financial activities, professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, and government. Hiring in education and health services, and other services is expected to remain unchanged. 


Salaries in Atlanta are expected to be higher this year than the national average. Those working in Atlanta can anticipate a 3.1 percent increase in their salaries in the coming year. 

The highest paying positions in Atlanta, according to Zippia are (with average annual wage):

  • Internists, general: 268,350 USD
  • Surgeons: 266,600 USD
  • Obstetricians and gynecologists: 254,980 USD
  • Physicians and surgeons, all other: 232,410 USD
  • Psychiatrists: 221,980 USD
  • Family and general practitioners: 210,290 USD
  • Chief executives: 199,950 USD
  • Pediatricians, general: 177,930 USD
  • Dentists, general: 174,010 USD
  • Podiatrists: 161,130 USD 

The following are average hourly wages for some selected occupations in the Atlanta metropolitan area: 


Average Hourly Wage  Atlanta (USD)

Average Hourly Wage  National (USD)




Customer service representatives



Computer systems analysts



Financial managers



General and operations managers



Management analysts



Registered nurses



Retail salespersons



Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 


Atlanta has much to offer jobseekers across a wide variety of job sectors. An affordable city with low unemployment, healthy salaries, a youthful, vibrant workforce and a broad range of attractions, Atlanta is a growing hotspot for young and experienced professionals alike. From Fortune 500 companies to small family owned businesses, Atlanta offers diversity in company type, and all job sectors are hiring. 


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