Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Employment Report for Florida and Metro Orlando

This morning, the government released the January employment report for states and major metropolitan areas.  There was good news and bad news for Florida and Orlando.  The unemployment rate for Florida declined to 9.6% while Orlando's unemployment rate stood at 9.5%, both representing multi-year lows.  One surprise was that Florida had the worst performance of any state in terms of job creation, showing a loss of 38,600 jobs in January, considerably more than any other state in a month when the nation added 284,000 jobs.  What happened?  One interesting quirk is evident when one compares the seasonally adjusted data to that which is not seasonally adjusted.  Recall that seasonal adjustments are used to account for factors that occur the same time every year.  For example, stores hire workers in November and December for the Christmas season and lay them off in January.  Accounting for this allows one to better understand the performance of the economy from month to month, though it shouldn't make a difference when comparing the performance to the same month of the previous year.  However, the government revises the seasonal adjustments occasionally, which occasionally leads to some "quirks" in the data (for example, see previous post).
Am I getting too bogged down into the details?  Florida added 74,900 jobs over the last 12 months (January 2011 to January 2012).  Once the data is seasonally adjusted, it only added 54,200 jobs; a difference of over 20,000 jobs.  Given that January 2011 was in the same season as January 2012, one wonders what happened to those 20,000 jobs?  That accounts for a majority of the job losses reported for Florida in January.  Either way, the Florida job market struggled in January.  Particular areas of weakness compared to the nation included temp jobs, private education, wholesale & retail trade, construction, and government (in other words, it was not limited to one sector).

Employment growth in both Florida and Orlando has lagged the nation over the last 12 months, due in part to the extreme weakness in January. While employment grew by 1.5% nationally, it grew by 0.7% in Florida and 0.8% in Orlando.  Orlando had been the fastest growing major metropolitan area in Florida during much of the early part of the recovery; however, Miami and Tampa (and others) are now experiencing faster job growth.