Labor Markets - March 2009
According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, the Sixth District states lost a net 70,500 jobs in January from a month earlier on a seasonally adjusted basis. The drop in employment marked the fourteenth consecutive month of job losses for the District. Unlike in previous months when only a few states accounted for the bulk of job losses, employment losses were widespread throughout all District states. The nation as a whole lost 655,000 jobs.
For December, employment figures for the District were revised downward by 25,300 to –105,300. Annual benchmark revisions to payroll data revealed that Sixth District states on net lost 176,600 more jobs in 2008 than was previously estimated. The revisions also showed that the decline in District payroll employment began at the onset of the recession in December 2007 rather than in February 2008 as previously reported.
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Payroll Employment Momentum
Employment momentum for District states as well as for the United States (less the Sixth District states) weakened in January, mostly due to deterioration of short-term employment growth. Long-term employment growth improved slightly in Florida, but the state's short-term growth continued to weaken. Large declines in short-term employment growth reflect the acceleration of job losses in recent months. For example, 98 percent of the total recession job losses in Alabama occurred between November and January.
The overall unemployment rate for the Sixth District states increased to 8.2 percent in January from 7.3 percent in December, above the national rate of 7.6 percent (on a seasonally adjusted basis). The national unemployment rate rose to 8.1 percent in February.
Districtwide initial claims remained elevated in February. Initial claims in Tennessee, for example, were up 157 percent compared to a year earlier. Rising initial unemployment claims suggest that near-term labor market growth will be weak. Continuing claims for the District as a whole were up 98 percent in January compared to a year earlier, indicating that the unemployed continue to have difficulty finding new employment.