Labor Markets - April 2009Data and Analysis
According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, the Sixth District states lost a net 96,500 jobs in March from a month earlier on a seasonally adjusted basis. The drop in employment marked the sixteenth consecutive month of job losses for the District. Job losses were widespread throughout the District with the exception of Mississippi, which gained 300 jobs. Employment growth continued to deteriorate more rapidly for the District than for the nation. Payroll employment for the District as a whole was 4.3 percent less than a year earlier versus 3.5 percent less for the nation. The nation as a whole lost 663,000 jobs in March.
February employment figures for the District were revised downwards by 200 to –118,600.
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Payroll Employment Momentum
Short-term employment growth weakened notably in Louisiana, and the state slipped into Quadrant II in March. Large declines in short-term employment growth reflect the acceleration of job losses in recent months. Long-term employment growth weakened in Tennessee. Employment momentum picked up slightly in Mississippi, one of only two states in the nation that added jobs in March. Employment momentum for other District states as well as for the United States (less the Sixth District states) held fairly steady in March.
The overall unemployment rate for the Sixth District states increased to 9.2 percent in March from 8.9 percent in February, well above the national rate of 8.5 percent (on a seasonally adjusted basis).
Districtwide initial claims remained elevated in March. Initial claims in Alabama and Tennessee were up 126 percent and 159 percent from last year, respectively. Rising initial unemployment claims suggest that near-term labor market growth will be weak. Continuing claims for Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee remained at the highest levels since the series began in 2001. Continuing claims for the District as a whole were up 115 percent in February compared to a year earlier, indicating that the unemployed continue to have difficulty finding new jobs.