Labor Markets - August 2009
According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, the Sixth District states lost a net 20,100 jobs in July from a month earlier on a seasonally adjusted basis. Florida accounted for most of the job losses. Florida's retail sector shed 16,200 jobs, compared to an average monthly decline of 3,000 in the previous three months. This was the largest job loss across sectors.
Alabama and Tennessee added jobs in July. Employment in local government jumped in Tennessee due to the inclusion of Summer Youth Program workers, who were funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Unanticipated seasonal distortions in auto manufacturing also accounted for some of the improvements in Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama. The nation as a whole lost 247,000 jobs in July.
June employment figures for the District were revised downward by 1,600 to –46,800.
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Payroll Employment Momentum
In July, short-term employment momentum improved in all Sixth District states except Mississippi, where it held steady. Momentum also improved in the United States (less the Sixth District States). Improvements in short-term employment growth reflect a decline in the pace of job losses in recent months. However, July employment figures should be interpreted with caution because some of the decline in the pace of job losses in Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama was distorted by unanticipated seasonal adjustments in the manufacturing sector.
The overall unemployment rate for the Sixth District states increased to 10.2 percent in July, above the national rate of 9.4 percent (on a seasonally adjusted basis). Louisiana's unemployment rate remained below the national level but is still seen as high for the state.
Average weekly initial claims declined significantly in July for Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee, mainly because of unanticipated seasonal distortions related to auto manufacturing. In early August, however, initial claims ticked up in Tennessee and Alabama. Although claims have either come down or leveled off from their recessionary peaks in most Sixth District states, current levels still reflect a weak labor market.
Average weekly continuing claims remained elevated in all District states but have declined from their recessionary peaks in all states except Louisiana and Georgia. Georgia's continuing claims reached a historical high in August, reflecting an increase in layoffs. Elevated levels of continuing claims are also indicative of weak hiring rates.