August 27, 2012
Air transportation is a popular form of travel in the United States and a thriving industry in the Atlanta, Georgia, metropolitan area, primarily Fulton County. More people are employed in Fulton County than in any other county in Georgia. In 2010, 16,594 people were employed in the air transportation industry in Fulton County, reflecting an 11.5-percent increase from 1990 to 2010.
In 1990, there were 14,887 people employed in the air transportation industry in Fulton County. Over the 20 years (1990–2010), employment recorded an annual average low of 9,776 in 1994 and a high of 17,643 in 2004. Large over-the-year employment increases were experienced in 1995 (29.4 percent), 2004 (24.4 percent), and 2010 (36.9 percent). Large over-the-year employment decreases were experienced in 1991 (31.0 percent) and 2007 (27.4 percent).
For Fulton County, several factors have contributed to changes in employment over the 20-year period, including three recessions: July 1990–March 1991; March 2001–November 2001; and December 2007–June 2009. The air transportation industry is sensitive to declines in economic activity as individuals and businesses tend to scale back travel during recessions.
Workers in Fulton County earned an average of $34,408 in the air transportation industry in 1990. In 2010, wages in this industry had more than doubled to $73,681. After deflating these wages to account for rising prices, real wages for air transportation in Fulton County grew 28.3 percent over the 20-year period.
Air transportation's share of total employment, or employment concentration, is more than 6 times greater in Fulton County than it is in the United States. The industry's rising profile in the Atlanta area is due in part to several capacity-adding construction projects at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, the world's busiest airport.
These data are from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) program. The employment concentration of an industry for different areas shows whether the employment share of an industry in the local economy is greater or less than that in the United States as a whole. To learn more, see "Atlanta's thriving air transportation industry: employment and wages, 1990–2010" (HTML) (PDF), Beyond the Numbers vol. 1, no. 10, August 2012.