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County Employment and Wages: First Quarter 2007

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RISMEDIA, Oct. 24, 2007-In March 2007, Orleans County, Louisiana, had the largest over-the-year percentage increase in employment among the largest counties in the U.S., according to preliminary data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor. Orleans County, which includes the city of New Orleans, experienced an over-the-year employment gain of 15.0 percent compared with national job growth of 1.4 percent. Harrison County, Miss., followed closely behind Orleans with an over-the-year gain of 14.5 percent. Employment gains in Orleans and Harrison counties reflected significant recovery following substantial job losses that occurred in September 2005 due to Hurricane Katrina. Trumbull County, Ohio, had the largest over-the-year gain in average weekly wages in the first quarter of 2007, with an increase of 22.3 percent. The U.S. average weekly wage rose by 5.1 percent over the same time span.

Of the 328 largest counties in the United States, as measured by 2006 annual average employment, 117 had over-the-year percentage growth in employment above the national average (1.4 percent) in March 2007 and 196 experienced changes below the national average. The percent change in average weekly wages was higher than the national average (5.1 percent) in 77 of the largest U.S. counties, but was below the national average in 240 counties.

The employment and average weekly wage data by county are compiled under the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) program, also known as the ES-202 program. The data are derived from reports submitted by every employer subject to unemployment insurance (UI) laws. The 8.9 million employer reports cover 134.3 million full- and part-time workers. The attached tables contain data for the nation and for the 328 U.S. counties with annual average employment levels of 75,000 or more in 2006. March 2007 employment and 2007 first-quarter average weekly wages for all states are provided in table 4 of this release.

Data for all states, metropolitan statistical areas, counties, and the nation through the fourth quarter of 2006 are available on the BLS Web site at http://www.bls.gov/cew/. Preliminary data for first quarter 2007 and final data for 2006 will be available later in October on the BLS Web site.

Large County Employment

In March 2007, national employment, as measured by the QCEW program, was 134.3 million, up by 1.4 percent from March 2006. The 328 U.S. counties with 75,000 or more employees accounted for 71.1 percent of total U.S. covered employment and 78.2 percent of total covered wages. These 328 counties had a net job gain of 1,192,248 over the year, accounting for 66.2 percent of the overall U.S. employment increase. Employment rose in 255 of the large counties from March 2006 to March 2007. Orleans County, La., had the largest over-the-year percentage increase in employment (15.0 percent). Harrison, Miss., had the next largest increase, 14.5 percent, followed by the counties of Utah, Utah (7.3 percent), Williamson, Texas (7.0 percent), and Jefferson, La. (6.6 percent).

The large employment gains in Orleans, Harrison, and Jefferson counties reflected significant recovery from the substantial job losses in September 2005, which were related to Hurricane Katrina.

Employment declined in 61 counties from March 2006 to March 2007. The largest percentage decline in employment was in Trumbull County, Ohio (-6.2 percent). Macomb, Mich., had the next largest employment decline (-3.8 percent), followed by the counties of Wayne, Mich., and Montgomery, Ohio (-3.2 percent each), and Elkhart, Ind. (-2.9 percent). In each of these five counties, the greatest number of jobs lost occurred in the manufacturing sector.

The largest gains in the level of employment from March 2006 to March 2007 were recorded in the counties of Harris, Texas (72,500), New York, N.Y. (52,900), Dallas, Texas (46,000), King, Wash. (41,100), and Mecklenburg, N.C. (32,800).

The largest decline in employment levels occurred in Wayne, Mich. (-24,600), followed by the counties of Macomb, Mich. (-12,400), Oakland, Mich. (-10,600), Montgomery, Ohio (-8,700), and Pinellas, Fla. (-5,400). Each of the 10 large counties in Michigan experienced employment declines in March 2007.

Large County Average Weekly Wages

The national average weekly wage in the first quarter of 2007 was $885. Average weekly wages were higher than the national average in 92 of the largest 328 U.S. counties. New York County, N.Y., held the top position among the highest-paid large counties with an average weekly wage of $2,821. Fairfield, Conn., was second with an average weekly wage of $1,979, followed by Suffolk, Mass. ($1,659), San Francisco, Calif. ($1,639), and Somerset, N.J. ($1,615).

There were 236 counties with an average weekly wage below the national average in the first quarter of 2007. The lowest average weekly wage was reported in Cameron County, Texas ($502), followed by the counties of Hidalgo, Texas ($516), Horry, S.C. ($536), Webb, Texas ($542), and Yakima, Wash. ($569).

Over the year, the national average weekly wage rose by 5.1 percent. Among the largest counties, Trumbull, Ohio, led the nation in growth in average weekly wages with an increase of 22.3 percent from the first quarter of 2006. New York, N.Y., was second with growth of 16.7 percent, followed by the counties of Cobb, Ga. (11.2 percent), Suffolk, Mass. (10.8 percent), and Clay, Mo. (9.7 percent). New York County experienced substantial over-the-year wage growth which had a significant impact on national average weekly wage growth in the first quarter of 2007. Without New York County’s over-the-year employment and wage growth, national average weekly wage growth would have been 4.2 percent; a 0.9 percentage point reduction.

Fourteen counties experienced over-the-year declines in average weekly wages. Bibb, Ga., and Loudoun, Va., led the nation in declines (-3.0 percent each), followed by the counties of Orleans, La., and Norfolk, Mass. (-2.7 percent each), and Arapahoe, Colo., Sarasota, Fla., and Peoria, Ill. (-1.8 percent each).

Ten Largest U.S. Counties

Each of the 10 largest counties (based on 2006 annual average employment levels) reported increases in employment from March 2006 to March 2007. Harris, Texas, experienced the largest percentage gain in employment among the largest counties with a 3.8 percent increase. Within Harris County, employment rose in every industry group. The largest gains were in natural resources and mining (11.0 percent) and manufacturing (5.6 percent). King, Wash., had the next largest increase in employment, 3.7 percent, followed by Dallas, Texas (3.2 percent). The smallest percentage increase in employment occurred in Orange, Calif. (0.1 percent), followed by San Diego, Calif., and Los Angeles, Calif. (0.4 percent each).

Each of the 10 largest U.S. counties saw over-the-year increases in average weekly wages. New York, N.Y., had the fastest growth in wages among the 10 largest counties with a gain of 16.7 percent. Within New York County, average weekly wages increased the most in financial activities (24.2 percent) and in manufacturing (14.6 percent). Harris, Texas, was second in wage growth with a gain of 8.5 percent, followed by Cook, Ill. (6.5 percent). The smallest wage gains among the 10 largest counties occurred in San Diego, Calif., and Orange, Calif. (3.2 percent each) and Los Angeles, Calif. (3.3 percent).

For More Information, visit http://www.bls.gov/cew/.

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