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The Atlanta Fed's SouthPoint offers commentary and observations on various aspects of the region's economy.

The blog's authors include staff from the Atlanta Fed's Regional Economic Information Network and Public Affairs Department.

Postings are weekly.


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>Regional information backs national employment trends

Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart discussed his view on the national economy at a speech February 14 in Sarasota, Florida. He spoke about recent trends in national labor markets:

"[T]he news has been positive on balance. The most obvious signs of improvement have come in the labor market. According to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics report, payroll employment increased by 243,000 jobs in January. Over the past five months, job gains have averaged more than 180,000 per month. Over these months, the unemployment rate has fallen by just over three-quarters of a percentage point. The current unemployment rate of 8.3 percent is the lowest it's been since February 2009."

(I should note that you could also dive into the recent patterns and trends in national employment data by checking out this recent macroblog post by Julie Hotchkiss, a research economist and policy adviser in the Atlanta Fed's research department.)

Is the national trend duplicated in the Southeast? Unfortunately, we won't get state employment data for January until March 13, but looking back at data from late 2011 allows us to see that Southeast labor markets were clearly improving as well. Job gains averaged close to 30,000 for the last four months of the year, and the aggregated unemployment rate for the six states in the Sixth Federal Reserve District has declined from 10.1 percent in August 2011 to 9.3 percent in December 2011.

The data are backed by what our business contacts are sharing with us. SouthPoint noted in a February 1 post that a January survey conducted by the Atlanta Fed of our business contacts revealed the following:

"Just under 47 percent of survey respondents said that they expected to increase payrolls over the next year. These results compare favorably to January 2011, when just under 40 percent anticipated higher payrolls for the year. Just over half of the businesses we contacted last January said they expected to keep employment levels unchanged in 2011. In January 2012 that number had declined to 43.6 percent. Just under 10 percent of respondents expect to cut payrolls in 2012, the same reading we found last January."

Both at the national level and the regional level, labor markets are clearly improving.

Photo of Michael Chriszt By Mike Chriszt, an assistant vice president in the Atlanta Fed's research department


February 17, 2012 in Employment | Permalink


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