Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Weather Affected Job Data in 2008

Knowing that a recession began in late 2007 and worsened in 2008, you might assume that employment declined at a steady or accelerating pace during 2008. However, Business Employment Dynamics (BED) data - now available through the third quarter of 2008 - showed large net job losses between March and June 2008 followed by relatively small job losses between June and September 2008.

The cause of this erratic pattern was a smaller-than-normal job gain in the crop production industry in June 2008 due to cooler-than-normal temperatures. This resulted in a large seasonally adjusted job loss in the natural resources and mining sector between March and June. Then July saw a resurgence of employment in crop production beyond the typical July increase. This caused a large seasonally adjusted gain in natural resources and mining between June and September, which mostly offset job losses in other industries.

Outside of this oddity, the longer term patterns in the BED data are consistent with a worsening recession. From the second quarter of 2007 to the third quarter of 2008, gross job losses have either exceeded gross job gains or have been only slightly smaller. Therefore, net employment change has been negative in four of those six quarters.

Read the full article, written by State Employment Economist Art Ayre, which details the most recent BED data.

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