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Robert Trigaux

Among U.S. metros, Tampa Bay job loss soars



Tough news for the Tampa Bay area today from the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of the 49 largest metropolitan areas with a (Census 2000) population of at least 1-million, the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area saw its jobless rate in November increase a whopping 3.3 percentage points -- to 7.8 percent from 4.5 percent in November 2007.

That percentage increase was second among big metro areas only to the 3.6-point jobless loss in Providence-Fall River-Warwick, R.I.-Mass. And it equals, interestingly, the 3.3-point jobless loss reported in Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord, N.C.-S.C., a metro area that fared well in recent years until the banking industry started to suffer and Charlotte-based giant Wachovia Corp. was sold to California's Wells Fargo.

Among big metro areas, Detroit-Warren-Livonia, Mich., and Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif., reported the highest unemployment rates of 9.5 percent in November 2008. Large areas with the lowest jobless rates in November were Oklahoma City, Okla., and Washington-
Arlington-Alexandria, D.C.-Va.-Md.-W.Va., at 4.4 percent each.

So we know where we stand, unfortunately, on rising unemployment. Let's slice the BLS numbers another way and look at the decline in employment over the past year among metro areas. By this measure, Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater ranked fourth with a 2.4-percent employment decline. That matches the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach area. Bigger employment declines were reported by Detroit-Warren-Livonia (-3.7 percent), followed by Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz. (-3.0 percent), and
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, Ga., and Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif. (-2.7 percent each).

Yes, some metro areas -- mostly in Texas -- are actually adding  jobs. The largest over-the-year percentage gain in employment was recorded in Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, Texas (+2.1 percent), followed by San Antonio, Texas (+2.0 percent), Austin-Round Rock, Texas, and Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas (+1.6 percent each), and Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, Va.-N.C. (+1.5 percent).

In actual jobs lost, the Tampa Bay area shed 30,600 in the past year, BLS said. That's 15 percent of the 202,600 jobs lost statewide from November '07 to November '08. Only the larger Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach area shed more jobs -- 59,300 (third largest among metro areas nationwide) -- in the past year. Orlando proved resilient in the past year, shedding just 7,500 jobs in the same period. More details on Florida's unemployment scene in November can be found here in an earlier state government release.

Finally, consider the broader BLS perspective on the struggling national job scene. Unemployment rates were higher in November than a year earlier in 364 of the 369 metropolitan areas, lower in four areas, and unchanged in one area. Twenty-three areas recorded jobless rates of at least 10.0 percent, while eight areas registered rates below 3.0 percent. The national unemployment rate in November was 6.5 percent -- still 1.3 points lower than the Tampa Bay area.

-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist

[Last modified: Tuesday, June 1, 2010 11:23am]


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