The Atlanta Fed's SouthPoint offers commentary and observations on various aspects of the region's economy.
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Employment Rebound Gains Momentum in Florida and Georgia
Usually about two weeks after the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) releases the closely watched national Employment Situation Report, they release a Regional and State Employment and Unemployment Summary that gives much more geographic detail on where payroll growth is occurring (or not occurring) across the nation. Parallel to the national Employment Situation Report, the BLS uses two survey methodologies. To gauge the level of new payrolls by industry for each state, the BLS uses the Payroll Survey, and for the number of employed and unemployed persons, changes in the labor force, and a few other labor market statistics (such as state unemployment rates), the BLS uses the Household Survey. (You can read details about the methodologies of each survey, as well as distinctions between the two.)
The regional and state release for July 2013 came out on Monday of this week, and it showed that Georgia had the second largest month-over-month increase in new payrolls across the nation, adding a net of 30,900 payrolls, and Florida was close behind with 27,600 net new payrolls in July. The other four Sixth District states, though, saw losses in payrolls last month: Mississippi shed 3,900 payrolls while Alabama lost 3,700; Tennessee gave up 2,500 payrolls and Louisiana shed 800 payrolls in July.
Within Georgia’s large gains over the month, 8,200 payrolls came in the trade, transportation, and utilities sector, with 5,500 of those in retail industries. July 2012 saw the largest addition of payrolls in retail that Georgia has seen since February 2011. Government added 7,200 payrolls in Georgia last month, which came almost entirely at the local level (6,000 of the new 7,200 payrolls), and the rest came at the state level (1,600 payrolls); the federal government actually shed 400 payrolls in Georgia last month. I’ll inject a word of caution about reading too much into the July leap in local government employment. A July 31 SouthPoint post noted that seasonal adjustments during the summer months can be tricky. Elsewhere in Georgia, the leisure and hospitality sector added 5,500 payrolls in July, almost exclusively within accommodation and food services industries. For more on recent developments in the Georgia economy, see the SouthPoint post from August 5. Also, Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart recently noted that:
Employment continues on a positive trend in most sectors in our state. The monthly labor market data for the state are quite volatile, but looking through the noise, we can see that the fundamental signals suggest the state is gaining momentum even though we have not yet returned to our prerecession pace of growth.
Florida also saw large gains in the trade, transportation, and utilities sector last month (up by 13,100 payrolls), with 10,400 of those payrolls coming in retail industries; you have to look a pretty long way back to see that kind of one-month change in payrolls in Florida’s retail sector (April 1997, to be exact). Professional and business services were also part of Florida’s strength last month (up by 8,200 payrolls). Florida’s leisure and hospitality sector added 5,900 payrolls in July: accommodation and food services industries actually added 6,100 payrolls last month, but this gain was offset by a reduction of 200 payrolls at arts, entertainment, and recreation industries across the state.
The Sixth District’s unemployment rate, an aggregate measure of Sixth District states’ unemployment rates, was unchanged at 7.6 percent in July. (Recall that the national unemployment rate fell from 7.6 percent in June to 7.4 percent in July.) The largest drop in state unemployment rates in July was Mississippi, which dropped from 9.0 percent to 8.5 percent in July. The largest increase in unemployment rate was in Georgia, ironically where payroll growth was strong last month; Georgia’s unemployment rate ticked up from 8.5 percent in June to 8.8 percent in July. The Peach State now has the highest unemployment rate within the Sixth District. The unemployment rate fell 0.2 percentage points in Alabama to reach 6.3 percent in July; Alabama remains the Sixth District state with the lowest unemployment rate. Unemployment rates were unchanged in Florida (at 7.1 percent), Louisiana (at 7.0 percent), and in Tennessee (at 8.5 percent).
The next national Employment Situation Report from the BLS will be out on Friday, September 6, at 8:30 a.m. The next regional and state employment and unemployment report, providing state-level detail, will be released Friday, September 20, at 10:00 a.m.
By Mark Carter, a senior economic analyst in the Atlanta Fed’s research department
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