They’re Catching Us! (yeah, sort of)

The latest unemployment stats (Feb 2009) by state are out at BLS. Nationally, it’s still an ugly picture. But for Michigan, which has been through so much pain, things are still continuing to improve.  Slowly, but it’s the right direction.  The rate is now down to 14.1% from a high of the mid-15’s last year.  We still ‘lead’ the nation, but by a much smaller margin.  Nevada, Rhode Island, Florida and California are catching us.

Overall this is really a mixed picture for Michigan.  It confirms what I said last summer that MI was the pioneer in this recession.  We took our hits hard and early.  But with the smooth exit from bankruptcy for GM and Chrysler, and with a rejuvenated Ford, Michigan is slowly starting to improve.  Unfortunately, the actual real increases in employment (as opposed to fewer people looking) are concentrated only in healthcare and education.  We need manufacturing to grow. But manufacturing can’t really grow until and unless those other 49 states turnaround and grow too.  They buy what we make.

As usual, Calculated Risk summarizes and offers the updated cool graph:

From the BLS: Regional and State Employment and Unemployment Summary

Twenty-seven states recorded over-the-month unemployment rate increases, 7 states and the District of Columbia registered rate decreases, and 16 states had no rate change, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the year, jobless rates increased in 46 states and the District of Columbia and declined in 4 states.

Michigan again recorded the highest unemployment rate among the states, 14.1 percent in February. The states with the next highest rates were Nevada, 13.2 percent; Rhode Island, 12.7 percent; California and South Carolina, 12.5 percent each; and Florida, 12.2 percent. North Dakota continued to register the lowest jobless rate, 4.1 percent in February, followed by Nebraska and South Dakota, 4.8 percent each. The rates in Florida and Nevada set new series highs, as did the rates in two other states: Georgia (10.5 percent) and North Carolina (11.2 percent).
emphasis added

State Unemployment Click on graph for larger image in new window.

This graph shows the high and low unemployment rates for each state (and D.C.) since 1976. The red bar is the current unemployment rate (sorted by the current unemployment rate).

Fifteen states and D.C. now have double digit unemployment rates. New Jersey and Indiana are close.

Four states and set new series record highs: Florida, Nevada, Georgia and North Carolina. Three other states tied series record highs: California, Rhode Island and South Carolina.

GDP Q4, 2009 revised down to 5.6% Growth rate

The last of the regular revisions of the quarterly GDP estimates for 2009 shows 5.6% GDP growth rate in 4Q 2009. That’s down from the 2nd revision’s estimate of 5.9%.  Not a big adjustment, but disturbing that the source of the adjustment is a downward revision in C and I.  C (represented as PCE-Personal Consumption Expenditures) in the table below and I (investment: the other three items) were weaker than previously thought. Not a good sign.  For a true, solid recovery we need those to get much stronger.  Prospects for a possible “double-dip” recession continue to be good.  I put it at even money.  Now is definitely not the time to be cutting back on G expenditures.

From  BEA via Calculated Risk:

The headline GDP number was revised down to 5.6% annualized growth in Q4 (from 5.9%). The following table shows the changes from the “advance estimate” to the “second estimate” to the “third estimate” for several key categories:

Advance Second Estimate Third Estimate
GDP 5.7% 5.9% 5.6%
PCE 2.0% 1.7% 1.6%
Residential Investment 5.7% 5.0% 3.8%
Structures -15.4% -13.9% -18.0%
Equipment & Software 13.3% 18.2% 19.0%

Note that PCE and Residential Investment (RI) – the two leading categories – were both revised down for Q4. This suggests that final demand was weaker in Q4 than in the previous two estimates.