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.
Regional Payroll Growth Rebounds in February
According to last week's regional and state employment report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Sixth District states added 34,000 payrolls on net, and the unemployment rate declined to 6.4 percent in February. These data follow a much bleaker January report, which indicated that the District shed payrolls for the first time in about a year and a half, losing 20,700 jobs. The new February data are definitely a step in the right direction and perhaps signal that the region's labor markets are getting back on their feet after a few months of slower job growth, a pattern not uncommon over the last few years. Not surprisingly, we've seen a similar pattern during the last few months in the national data as well (see the chart).
However, despite the more positive aggregate Sixth District payroll figure for February, Florida was the primary driver of payroll growth, while Georgia and Mississippi continued to shed jobs.
Florida added 33,400 payrolls on its own over the month. In fact, Florida saw the third-largest gain of any state in the nation in February, following only California and Texas. Payroll growth in Florida was driven by the construction sector (up 7,200 new payrolls over the month), retail (up 7,000), education and health sectors (up 5,300), and leisure and hospitality (up 3,900).
As for other District states, Tennessee experienced a modest gain in payrolls in February, adding 6,900 jobs. Tennessee's payroll growth over the month was primarily concentrated in professional and business services (up 5,100). Louisiana and Alabama respectively added 1,900 and 200 jobs, while Mississippi (down 2,200 payrolls) and Georgia (down 5,800) continued to shed payrolls (see the chart).
The aggregate unemployment rate for the Sixth District declined from 6.5 percent to 6.4 percent in February. Four out of the six District states experienced declines in their unemployment rates and Florida's rate remained unchanged, despite Florida seeing the second-largest one-month increase in that state's labor force on record (up 58,400). The only District state that saw an increase in its unemployment rate in February was Alabama, where the rate of unemployment increased from 6.1 percent to 6.4 percent during the month. This increase comes as Alabama saw the largest-ever one-month increase in its labor force, excluding the temporary hiring boost from the 2010 census. Of the roughly 12,600 additional labor force participants in Alabama from January to February, about 6,800 were unemployed. Of Florida's 58,400 new labor force participants, only about 4,500 were unemployed (see the table).
Want to find out how many jobs it would take to lower the unemployment rate in any of the 50 states? Check out the Atlanta Fed's State Jobs Calculator.
The next regional and state employment report from the BLS reflecting March data will be released April 18.
By Mark Carter, a senior economic analyst in the Atlanta Fed's research department
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Revised data paint brighter employment picture in the Southeast
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released revised 2011 state payroll employment statistics on March 13. The data show that employment growth was stronger than first reported for several Sixth Federal Reserve District states.
In particular, Georgia's revised data revealed that employment growth was much healthier than the original estimates showed. A total of 69,600 additional jobs were created in 2011 than previously believed, which represents an additional net increase of 1.8 percent in total employment (see the chart below). Florida's revisions added a net 40,300 (0.6 percent), while Tennessee saw its original estimate of payroll employment growth in 2011 increase by 19,900 jobs (0.8 percent). Louisiana, where employment growth was already rather solid, saw an additional 4,700 net new jobs created (0.2 percent). Alabama and Mississippi totals for 2011 were revised down—Alabama's by 2,700 jobs (down 0.1 percent) and Mississippi's by 5,700 jobs (down 0.5 percent).
The charts below show the employment performance of individual states both pre- and post-revision.
Clearly, the revisions for Alabama and Mississippi were the most disappointing. Neither state has shown much of a rebound in employment since early 2010. Georgia, which appeared headed in the wrong direction prior to the revisions, now appears to be on a slow track to employment recovery. For Florida and Tennessee, the overall trend is little changed, but the magnitude of their recoveries now seems to be a bit stronger—even with an initial report for January showing Florida losing more than 38,000 jobs for the month (stay tuned for an upcoming SouthPoint post on this topic). Louisiana's revisons do little to alter the fact that it has been adding jobs at a decent pace for some time.
From which sectors did revisions originate? The largest upward adjustment for the Sixth District states came from the trade, transportation, and utilities sector, which experienced an increase of 44,500 jobs across the region—over half of those coming from Florida. Financial services, professional business services, and education and health care also saw substantial increases of 25,800, 25,900, and 23,100, respectively. Government employment in the region was revised up by 12,100, led by Georgia. Manufacturing also saw an increase of 10,000 jobs, mainly from Florida and Tennessee. Leisure and hospitality saw a small downward adjustment, as did other services.
Overall, the 2011 revisions appear to paint a picture of employment recovery in the Southeast that is a bit better than previously believed. However, these revisions do not change the fact that in most of the Sixth District, states have a long way to go to fully recover the jobs lost during the recession.
By Mike Chriszt, an assistant vice president in the Atlanta Fed's research department
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