Unemployment rates remain elevated
The combined unemployment rate for the states of the Sixth District remained at 10.5 percent in December for the second month in a row. This rate is calculated by dividing the sum of unemployed in the six states of the region by the sum of the six respective labor forces. Nationwide, 31 states posted unemployment rate decreases. The unemployment rate decreased in one district state (Louisiana) and increased in three states (see the table).
When compared with the unemployment rate for the rest of the country (calculated by dividing the number of unemployed outside of the Sixth District states by the labor force of non-Sixth District states), it's clear the region's labor markets are underperforming other parts of the nation. Importantly, the weakness is concentrated in Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi, where the unemployment rate is above the national average. Alabama, Louisiana, and Tennessee have unemployment rates more comparable to the national rate of 9.4 percent. If we were to exclude the Southeast, the national unemployment rate would be 9.2 percent. So with a 10.5 percent unemployment rate for the states in the Sixth District and a 9.2 percent rate in the rest of the country, our District's labor markets clearly have a long way to go to achieve recovery (see the chart).
By Michael Chriszt, assistant vice president in the Atlanta Fed research department, and Amy Ellingson, economic analyst at the Atlanta Fed
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