Unemployment rate hits 7 percent; job counts off 1,000

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Unemployment rate hits 7 percent; job counts off 1,000

Fri, 03/27/2009 - 8:01am -- tim

The Vermont Department of Labor announced today that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for February 2009 was 7.0 percent, up two-tenths of a point from the revised January rate and up 2.6 points from a year ago.
Unemployment rates for Vermont s 17 labor market areas ranged from 4.5 percent in Warren-Waitsfield to 12.3 percent in Newport. Local labor market area unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted. For comparison, the January unadjusted unemployment rate for Vermont was 7.7 percent, up one-tenth of a point from January 2009 and up 2.9 points from a year ago.
The national recession continues to have its impact on Vermont s labor market. said Patricia Moulton Powden, Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Labor. The number of unemployed Vermonters rose in February, though not nearly as dramatically as in January. Construction and Manufacturing were hit particularly hard. Healthcare and Leisure & Hospitality remain bright spots.
Job Growth
Before seasonal adjustment, Total Non-Farm (TNF) jobs were essentially flat, (+100) when we would expect to see an increase of 1,300 in a typical February. On an annual basis we are down 13,500 jobs or -4.3% from February 2008. The only sectors showing monthly seasonal increases were Education, (+550 or 4.2%) and Leisure & Hospitality (+850 or 2.5%) and Financial Activities, (+100 or 0.8%. Of these sectors only Education and Healthcare show annual growth. The Construction, (-800 or -7.1%) Manufacturing, (-550 or -1.7%) and Retail Trade, (-850 or -2.3%) sectors all showed significant job loses from January to February.
When seasonally adjusted, February job levels fell by 1,000 jobs or -0.3% from January and by 12,700 or -4.1% from February of 2008. Only Healthcare (+500 or 1.1%) and Leisure & Hospitality, (+900 or 2.9%) showed seasonally adjusted increases in jobs over the month.
Employment Growth
Vermont s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate grew two-tenths of a point to 7.0 percent in February as a result of another increase in the number of unemployed, (+1,000 to 25,200) though the number of employed Vermonters remained relatively steady, (-200 to 332,700). Vermont s observed February seasonally adjusted employment, unemployment levels and unemployment rate were not statistically significant from January. For comparison purposes, the US seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for February was 8.1 percent, up five-tenths of a point from the revised January value of 7.6 percent.
The preliminary estimates of nonfarm jobs for February, and the revisions to the estimates for November through January 2009, incorporate substantive changes made in the Current Employment Survey estimation procedures. These new procedures are designed to bring the aggregate monthly change in jobs for individual states into closer alignment with the change in national job counts reflected in the estimates produced and published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As a result of these changes, the November 2008 and forward estimates may not be totally comparable to previous months' data. The impact of these changes in methodology will be better understood when we are able to make comparisons to Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages. We expect to make these comparisons in May of 2009. For details of these changes, please contact Andy Condon at the Vermont Department of Labor at 802-828-4153 or andrew.condon@state.vt.us.