Thursday, January 22, 2009

Upstate jobs data...

Yesterday, the local news aggregator - Newzjunky - put up a chart of the December unemployment rate in St. Lawrence, Lewis and Jefferson counties. I was really struck by the jump in December's jobless rate (up 40%) until I realized that the data was raw and not seasonally adjusted.

I took the liberty of recreating a December unemployment rate for December from 1990 through 2008. This should eliminate the issue of seasonality and give us a better picture of where we stand today. I think it is interesting to note that while unemployment hovered above 10% for all of the 90's, the last 7 years were very good to Jefferson county (due in large part to Fort Drum's expansion) as unemployment in December bounced between 6 and 8%.

However, the trendline appears to have been broken in December 2008.

A couple of further notes:

* the denominator in this calculation is the Jefferson county workforce which remains at just over 44k. A gain or loss of just 4oo jobs can swing the unemployment rate a full percentage point.

* while I couldn't find population data for Jefferson county in the early 90's I suspect that our population totals were meaningfully below the current levels. Thus, while the unemployment rate was substantially higher in the 90's it is possible this data was skewed by a small denominator.

So what does this mean? Jefferson county has not historically been a boom/bust/boom region because of the stability of our industries and our large reliance on state and federal employment. However, I think there is little doubt that the last 7 years have been a time of unprecedented growth in the North Country. Unfortunately, if government budgets are suddenly under pressure, then I think there a real risk of revisiting the double digit unemployment that we saw in the mid-90's.


Update - Welcome to those who jumped from Newzjunky or WWNY - Bookmark the blog!

Markets are holding up reasonably well considering the wealth of bad news out there. I'll be back tonight with more thoughts on some of key news of the day.

1 comment:

ConcernedCitizen said...

I took the liberty of linking to your informative post.
Is it safe to assume that each year is represented by a square dot and the first dot is 1990?

Jefferson Leaning Left