Better Than It Seemed
SouthPoint has discussed before the slow and bumpy improvement in regional labor markets. Both the data and information from our contacts revealed that hiring was taking place, but as we wrote in our latest Beige Book, "Hiring in District labor markets expanded at a modest pace."
Revised data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), released March 18, showed that for most states in the Sixth District, employment growth was a bit better than originally reported. An article by the BLS details these revisions, which "reflect the incorporation of the 2012 benchmarks and the recalculation of seasonal adjustment factors for payroll employment estimates," according to the report.
Here are a few tables and charts that detail the regional revisions:
The largest upward revisions, both in nominal terms and in percent change, were in Florida. Only Georgia saw downward revisions, but they were relatively minor. For the region as a whole, employment growth was revised up by 112,000, or 0.6 percentage points. The chart below shows the originally reported data along with the revised data for the region as a whole.
Looking ahead, and more broadly, Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart said in February that
Our readings of the incoming data, complemented by anecdotal characterizations of the economy provided by our contacts across the Southeast, suggest a continuation of a 2 percent GDP trend in the first quarter. For 2013 overall, I expect GDP growth to come in between 2 and 2 1/2 percent. This pace of growth implies steady, but not accelerating, net job creation. At this pace of expansion, unemployment will likely continue to decline gradually.
The fact that regional employment growth was stronger than first reported does not mean that all is well. For example, before the revisions, data showed that the region’s overall employment level was still 5.5 percent below its prerecession peak by the end of 2012. After the revisions, data indicate that we are 4.9 percent below our prerecession peak. It was better than it seemed, but it would be a stretch to say we are where we need to be.
By Michael Chriszt, vice president and community affairs officer in the Atlanta Fed's Public Affairs department
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