Regional employment: Looking better, but still not great
State employment data for September were released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics last week, and the report was rather positive for the Sixth District as a whole (see chart 1). Regionally, we added a net 46,800 jobs for the month, the largest increase since February 2011. All states in our region added jobs except Georgia, which saw its fifth straight monthly decline. More on that in a minute.
Florida led the region with a net increase of 23,300. Gains in leisure and hospitality and health care drove September's gains in Florida, but most other sectors also saw net increases. Over the last twelve months, the Sunshine State has added 93,500 jobs—granted, a small dent in the more than 900,000 jobs lost during the downturn, but Florida appears headed in the right direction. Also heading in the right direction is Florida's unemployment rate, which is down to 10.6 percent from its peak of 12 percent in December 2010. The total number of unemployed in Florida is down to its lowest level in two years and September saw a slight increase in the state's labor force, two more positive signs.
Louisiana also saw a solid increase in employment in September. Gains were broad-based, but the increase of 5,000 jobs in government should be interpreted cautiously as the same sector saw a similar decline in July. Stepping back from the monthly data, Louisiana has outperformed the rest of the region in terms of job gains—up 2.4 percent over the past year. In addition, the state's unemployment rate is by far the lowest in the region at 6.9 percent (see chart 2).
At the other end of the spectrum is Georgia. The Peach State lost another 7,100 jobs in September, bringing total losses over the past five months to more than 27,000. Gains in manufacturing, health care and business services were more than offset by declines in construction, leisure and hospitality, and government. In addition, Georgia's unemployment rate ticked up to 10.3 percent. The state is clearly headed in the opposite direction.
We will continue to monitor job growth and unemployment for the region and individual states.
By Mike Chriszt, an assistant vice president in the Atlanta Fed's research department
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