Employment still struggling in many U.S. metro areas

09.19.2012


Employment still struggling in many U.S. metro areas
Employment still struggling in many U.S. metro areas

The 100 largest metropolitan areas in the country reported a lower rate of economic expansion - which is factored by looking at statistics such as employment and unemployment - in the second quarter of the year than in the first, Reuters reports.

According to the media outlet, a new report shows a number of major U.S. cities are still climbing uphill out of the recession, with the Northeast region feeling the full force of the slow recovery. Upstate New York, in particular, had an especially weak showing in the second quarter, where state capital Albany came in at 97th on the list, the Brookings Institute report showed.

Harrisburg and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, came in at 99th and 95th, respectively, on the list as the cities' lack of capital and alarming unemployment rates have hardly recovered from the recession. This, some analysts say, is to be expected though, as cities in the U.S. Northeast typically experience wider swings of boom and bust cycles, leading to slower recoveries.

"In the race to recovery, metro areas are running at slow speeds with some tripping along the way," Alec Friedhoff, a research analyst with the Washington think tank, said in a statement.

The lower job growth and stagnant unemployment rates are expected to continue to have an impact on the economies of these region, Friedhoff added.

"Slowed U.S. job growth in the second quarter of 2012 will undoubtedly be reflected in the experiences of the nation’s major metropolitan economies," he said. "At the same time, the tremendous metro variation in the pace of recovery will surely persist. With Washington gridlocked on economic policy, local and regional leaders face the difficult tasks of creating jobs in the short term while positioning their distinct economies for long-term, sustainable growth."

The report did note that a few parts of the country have been somewhat impervious to the recession - Texas and Oklahoma, in particular - and the recovery in these areas has been strong thanks to a boom in energy staffing and natural gas output.

Improved manufacturing staffing helped 7th-ranked Detroit and 8th-ranked Grand Rapids, Michigan, increase their factory output, helping these cities surge ahead in the recovery.

Outside factors affecting jobs data
The recovery may indeed be lagging, but some of the slower job growth and rise in jobless claims can be attributed to Hurricane Isaac, according to ABC News.

The media outlet stated that applications for employment jumped by 15,000 in the latest report from the Department of Labor to 382,000, while the four-week average rose for the fourth-consecutive week to 375,000. These numbers, however, may have been skewed by Hurricane Isaac, which hit the Gulf Coast as a Category 1 hurricane on August 28. Although it was later downgraded to a tropical storm, it responsible for serious work disruptions in nine states, and is believed to be responsible for as many as 9,000 jobless claims.

According to the DOL, the total number of people receiving unemployment benefits dropped to 5.4 million as of August 25, roughly 80,000 fewer than the previous week. This decline has been attributed to both recipients using up available benefits as well as new hiring.

A separate report from the DOL also showed that in July, layoffs were at their lowest level in the 11 years the agency has been keeping track of such data, further clouding the U.S. employment picture that appears to grow more mixed with every report.