The Atlanta Fed's SouthPoint offers commentary and observations on various aspects of the region's economy.
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Florida's Job Report Shines Bright
On December 19 the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics published November 2014 state-level labor market data. This release followed the national report published on December 5, which revealed an impressive 321,000 jobs were added on net in November, while the unemployment rate held firm at 5.8 percent. The state-level data helps us determine how the Sixth District labor market compared with the national labor picture. On aggregate, Sixth District states appear to have fared well. The district contributed 49,500 jobs in November, 15 percent of the national figure. However, although the sum of jobs added in the Sixth District last month was the highest since April, losses in some states brought the aggregate number down a bit.
Florida becomes the region's top jobs contributor
One Sixth District state had a stellar month of job gains and an unemployment rate that declined to match the national rate. If you guessed the Sunshine State, you were correct. Florida was the top contributor of jobs in the district by far, with 41,900 jobs added on net (see the chart).
Florida's job growth in November was the most the state has added in four and a half years, when it contributed 45,200 payrolls in May 2010. The November number reflects 85 percent of all jobs created in the district, and it follows a strong month in October as well, when 34,400 jobs were added on net in the state. At 5.8 percent, Florida's unemployment rate in November was the lowest it's been since May 2008, when it was 5.7 percent.
So where did these jobs come from? Though November's gains occurred in nearly all sectors, the largest contributions came from trade, transportation, and utilities (up 12,700), leisure and hospitality (up 8,400), and financial activities (up 5,800) (see the chart).
Within the trade, transportation, and utilities sector, retail added 8,400 jobs on net, followed by transportation, warehousing, and utilities, which added 3,500 jobs, and wholesale trade, which gained 800 jobs. Looking at Florida's payroll contributions over the year so far, you can glean that the trade, transportation, and utilities sector has often performed well. In fact, the sector has contributed 47,600 jobs in Florida so far this year, 30,200 from retail alone. The other big contributors over the last 11 months have been the leisure and hospitality (up 42,700), professional and business services (up 40,500), and goods-producing (up 39,000, with 33,500 from construction) sectors (see the chart).
Looking at the losses
A few Sixth District states saw payroll declines in November, losses the district had not seen on aggregate since June. Tennessee's loss of 1,900 jobs in November was the first time the state encountered net losses since June. The largest decreases occurred in the trade, transportation, and utilities (down 2,000 payrolls) and leisure and hospitality (down 1,900) sectors. In addition, for the first time since January, Louisiana experienced job losses in November, with 2,600 jobs subtracted on net. The goods-producing sector drove the losses, shedding 3,400 jobs. Within the sector, 3,000 construction jobs were lost. Additionally, Louisiana's unemployment rate rose in November for the seventh month in a row to 6.5 percent, increasing 2.0 percentage points since April. In fact, the movements in unemployment rates of Sixth District states, particularly during the last few months, indicate that all states rates are trending down except Louisiana (see the chart).
Furthermore, Mississippi experienced net job losses in November, shedding 4,500 payrolls. The bulk of the losses were in the leisure and hospitality (down 2,200) and professional and business services (down 1,700) sectors. Mississippi also had the highest unemployment rate in the United States in November with 7.3 percent (previously, another Sixth District state—Georgia—held that distinction for three months in a row).
Overall, the Sixth District's aggregate payroll contributions in November and a declining unemployment rate seen over a three-month trend are positive signs of continued strengthening in the labor market. However, a distinction must be made between the aggregate and state-by-state figures, considering the Sunshine State's occasional tendency to outshine its cohorts, as seen in November's data.
The state-level labor market report for December will be released on January 27, 2015, and we'll parse its numbers for you.
By Rebekah Durham, economic policy analysis specialist in the Regional Economic Information Network at the New Orleans Branch of the Atlanta Fed
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