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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.

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.

Photo of Michael Chriszt By Mike Chriszt, an assistant vice president in the Atlanta Fed's research department