The Labor Department's report offers a brighter picture compared with the previous two months, when the jobless rate rose in most areas, and the figures add to evidence that the job market is improving.Î¾ Brian Hannon is an economist with the Bureau of Labor Statistics.Î¾
"The labor force and the unemployment numbers are based on counts of persons based on their place of residence.Î¾ And then there's a separate set of data in measures of employment, and they're essentially counts of jobs based on where those jobs are located.Î¾ You're getting sort of two measures here in this report—the household survey data, and then there's an establishment set of employment data.Î¾ The unemployment rates are based purely on the place of residence."
Twenty-nine areas posted jobless rates of 15 percent or higher, though that's down from 35 in January.Î¾ The metro employment numbers aren't seasonally adjusted and can be volatile.Î¾
"(The) seasonal adjustment process is designed to take into account things that we know happen at the same time every year.Î¾ So for instance, at the start of the summer, you'll see unemployment rise as folks leave school and enter the labor force.Î¾ And that allows you to get a better sense of the long-term trend.Î¾ This particular month, rates were higher in 347 of the 372 metro areas, relative to the prior year.Î¾ I think that's down a little bit from the January report."
Unemployment fell in 189 metro areas in February.Î¾ That compares with only three in January, though the report that month was distorted by an annual data revision.