Good News and Bad in State-by-State Unemployment

More states than not saw unemployment rates increases between January and February 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics--30 in all, as well as the District of Columbia, while nine states saw decreases and 11 recorded no change. That's the bad news.

March 11, 2010
By Dees Stribling, Contributing Editor

Courtesy Flickr Creative Commons user Alex E. Proimos

More states than not saw unemployment rates increases between January and February 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics–30 in all, as well as the District of Columbia, while nine states saw decreases and 11 recorded no change. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that nonfarm payrolls actually increased in 31 states and DC, but decreased only in 18 states and was unchanged in one. The largest increases in raw employment numbers between January and February were in California (up 32,500), followed by Illinois (up 26,000), New York (up 25,500), Washington state (up 18,900), and Minnesota (up 15,600). The biggest losers for the month were Missouri and Ohio, which each lost 12,800 jobs each.

In terms of unemployment rates, Michigan still has the dubious distinction of suffering the highest one among the states of the union–14.3 percent in January. North Dakota, by contrast, has a positively pre-recession unemployment rate of 4.2 percent.

Survey Says: Tepid Growth Ahead

A Blue Chip Economic Indicators newsletter survey of 70 economists published on Wednesday is predicting annual growth for the U.S. economy of 2.9 percent in 2010. Lackluster, but a far cry better than the economic contraction of 2.4 percent in 2009. The economists also predicted 3 percent growth in 2011.

The dismal scientists also predicted that the core consumer price index for the nation–which assumes people don’t eat or drive cars, since it excludes volatile food and gas prices–would rise only 1.3 percent in 2010 and 1.6 percent in 2011. Thus the Fed might not have any impetus to make the cost of borrowing any higher for some time yet.

Regarding jobs, the Blue Chip survey said that “a slower and less powerful than is typical improvement in labor market conditions that will cap gains in disposable personal income and personal consumption expenditures.” In other words, a lot of people will still be down and out in the coming years.

The Case of the Foreclosed Parrot

In an instance of real estate oops in this age of foreclosure, a woman who lives near Pittsburgh is suing Bank of America for sending a contractor to her home last October to padlock the door and otherwise “secure” the property while she wasn’t there. The contractor was under the impression that Angela Iannelli’s house was being seized in a foreclosure action by Bank of America. But she wasn’t in default on her mortgage.

In her suit, filed Monday in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, Iannelli alleges that the contractor had her utilities stopped, cut off the house’s water, damaged the floor, put antifreeze into the sinks and toilets, and took her pet parrot away. She was later reunited with her parrot, but only after a week of unhelpfulness on the part of Bank of America employees, she said.

The Bank of America has publicly said it “sincerely apologizes” for the incident, but Iannelli is asking for a little more than that, about $50,000. And maybe a big bag of birdseed for the parrot.

Wall Street eked out gains on Wednesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 2.95 points, or 0.03 percent, and the S&P 500 advancing 0.45 percent. Ten years to the day after its tech-bubble peak, the Nasdaq edged up 0.78 percent to 2358.95. On March 10, 2000, the index closed at 5048.62.