Encouraging news in latest jobs data

The Department of Labor released its labor force estimates today for September. It’s a generally upbeat report — consistent with other statewide and national estimates in recent weeks.

The state had already estimated that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell in September to 9.0 percent, down from 9.2 percent in August and down from 9.8 percent in September 2011. Today’s estimates detail the numbers on which that estimate as based, as well as providing estimates for the state’s regions, metro areas, counties, and cities.

These are just estimates, of course, and it’s generally considered that the payroll jobs data is the best indicator of job growth or loss. Still, although noisy month to month, the labor force estimates will over time track pretty closely with the payroll jobs numbers.

Not adjusted for seasonality, the size of the Georgia labor force increased by 51,427 from September 2011 to September 2012. That’s a decent increase of 1.1 percent — about what we’d expect given population growth.  Georgians reporting having employment increased 108,057 over the year.  That’s a robust increase of 2.5 percent.

The estimates for the Atlanta metro area show considerably stronger improvement, with the labor force increasing by 1.5 percent and the number of employed persons increasing by 3.0 percent.

The unemployment rate decreased year-over-year in every city for which the DOL releases estimates, and the rate declined in the vast majority of counties too. The unemployment rate also fell in all 14 of the state’s metro areas.

But improvement doesn’t mean things are good — or even satisfactory.  For example, the current 11.2 percent unemployment rate in the Dalton MSA is an improvement over last year, but it’s still lousy. And Dalton is one of those locales, like Augusta and Columbus, where the size of the labor force declined over the past year.

Still, from a statewide perspective this a pretty upbeat report.

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