Evan Soltas
Oct 7, 2012

The Unemployment Nor'easter

Net change in the statewide rate of unemployment, in percentage points of the labor force, from January 2012 to August 2012.

My latest in Bloomberg:

Unemployment is surging across the Northeast. In two states -- New York and New Jersey -- the statewide rates of unemployment are higher than they were at any point during the recession. In Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, years' worth of progress against unemployment has been reversed in a matter of months.

Take a look at this map, which shows the net change in statewide rates of unemployment between January and August of this year, the latest month for which data is available...

So what's going on? Some politicians in the Northeast have challenged the accuracy of the unemployment data, which come from the Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics. Local officials correctly point out that the unemployment numbers are inconsistent with rising payroll employment, which is measured in a separate survey. The issue is under examination, but federal officials have said it's relatively unlikely recent data are inaccurate, even given small sample sizes.

It's not exactly clear what is holding the Northeastern job market back, though. The slow growth in employment is broad: The region lags behind the nation in job creation in seven out of 10 industry categories.