Regional and State Employment and Unemployment

Each day the Research staff takes a look at recently released economic indicators, addressing what these indicators mean for REALTORS® and their clients. Today’s update discusses regional and state employment and unemployment information.

  • National headlines about unemployment are informative and maybe even interesting, but they may or may not reflect what you see happening at a more local level. Today, the BLS released information on state unemployment rates from December 2011. This month, the improvement seen in the national figures was reflected broadly in the state figures. Stepping back a bit, however, the experience in the states throughout the course of the recession has varied.
  • Some states, Alaska, DC, and North Dakota would be examples, never really saw a recession in employment. There may have been some down months, but for the most part, the trend has been toward employment growth in each of these states where payroll jobs are up 3, 4, and 13 percent since early to mid-2007.
  • Other states, mainly middle-American states like Texas, Utah, Wyoming, Oklahoma, and Louisiana have showed great improvement, each increasing payroll jobs by more than 3.5 percent since their employment troughs which were typically in early 2010. In fact, in Texas, payroll jobs have finally recovered beyond their previous peak at nearly 10.65 million.
  • So if Texas has more jobs than it did in August 2008, the previous peak, why is the unemployment rate at 7.8 percent now, when in August 2008 it was at 5.1 percent? The answer is the labor force. An extra 700,000 individuals in Texas are part of the labor force—working or not working and looking for a job—in December 2011 compared to August 2008.
  • The job growth Texas has seen is good, but it will take even more to get back to a labor market that inspires consumer confidence, and this Lawrence Yun suggests may be even more important for home sales than the number of jobs.

Danielle Hale, Director of Housing Statistics

As a Research Economist at NAR, Danielle studies tax issues, the wealth impact of home ownership, and different measures of home prices.

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