Well, It's Not Any Worse
Words from our youth sports coaches tend to linger. In my case, it's going on 35 years. I had a devil of a time going to my left as a junior high school basketball player. I just couldn't control the ball, let alone nail a pull-up J or make a layup (mainly because I usually lost the ball before I got near the hoop). Anyway, I practiced as much as a 12-year old can practice. I thought I had made some progress during the off-season. Next season at tryouts, my coach asked if I had worked on my left. Eagerly I said I had. I remember what happened next like it was yesterday. I dribbled in from the left, bobbled the ball, and shot a brick. Didn't even hit the rim. Coach said, "Well, at least you're not any worse. Next!"
Not being worse is not where anyone wants to be, especially when the current situation is not good. Not unlike where the region's labor markets currently stand. After making some progress from its peak in 2012, the total number of unemployed stabilized then fell steadily through the first months of 2012. Progress stalled, then went into reverse some in May and June.
July data will be released at the end of this week. Based on data already available for July, we would be surprised if the total number of unemployed in the region increased. Initial unemployment claims data for July show a bit of a decline for the six states in the region, which may portend a small improvement in the overall unemployment picture.
As we noted in our August 8 SouthPoint post, the region's unemployment rate rose in June, and our business contacts appeared to be making only very modest hiring plans. At the very least, our anecdotal information leads us to think that overall regional labor markets probably didn't get any worse in July.
P.S. I still can't go to my left, but my son sure can. He's left-handed. Can't go to his right, though.
By Mike Chriszt, a vice president in the Atlanta Fed's research department
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