Bit by bit
SouthPoint has discussed, frequently, the depth of the employment downturn in the Southeast and the slow jobs rebound experienced by the region. While a couple of months of positive employment growth may only be small steps in the recovery, it is still good news.
The District as a whole gained 34,400 jobs in October. All states within the district added jobs, with Florida and Tennessee experiencing the largest over-the-month increases (see the first table below). In addition, September's total employment increase was revised up from a gain of 46,800 to 50,000. The District unemployment rate decreased by 0.2 percentage points, to 9.8 percent in October. All District states continue to have unemployment rates higher than the national unemployment rate, with the exception of Louisiana (see the second table below). Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for October are listed below.
The September-October average monthly gain for the region was 42,200, which compares favorably to the 38,000 average monthly gain from 2004 to 2007. While two months' worth of data are not enough to claim a trend, these numbers are still impressive; the regional unemployment rate of 9.8 percent, the lowest reading since May 2009, provides further encouragement for the near-term outlook (albeit still remaining elevated and well above the comparable U.S. rate).
Our business contacts continue to convey limited hiring plans, but perhaps the last two months show that hiring—although modest—is becoming more widespread.
By Mike Chriszt, an assistant vice president in the Atlanta Fed's research department
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