Date of this Version
Cornhusker Economics, July 31, 2014
Institute of Agriculture & Natural Resources, Department of Agricultural Economics, http://agecon.unl.edu/cornhuskereconomics
A commonly used resource for tracking changes in jobs and income at the county level is the Regional Economic Information System (REIS) data base produced annually by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). REIS data are derived from tax filings by employers, employees and the self-employed. The data base has been relatively unchanged (except for a reorganization of industry codes) since 1969. Reporting is always for the tax year two-years previous to the release date, so the data are more about historical than current conditions. However, REIS is generally seen as reliable and does provide a trend line that now covers 43 years making it a valuable resource for understanding regional, state and local economies.
Two years ago, BEA stopped reporting employment data in response to the federal sequester of funds that applied to fiscal years 2013 and 2014. Among other things, this limited the value of REIS data in tracking recovery from the 2007 recession at the local (county) level. In May of 2014, the employment files were reintroduced to the system. As a result, we can now track employment as well as income through 2012, taking us through several years of what has nationally been a slow recovery in the employment sector.
In this issue of Cornhusker Economics, we will use REIS data to examine changes in employment between 2008 and 2012 for Nebraska counties. According to those data, the State of Nebraska added 6,376 total full-and part-time jobs over those five years. It is a weakness in REIS data that one cannot distinguish between full-time and part-time jobs. As depicted in Figure 1, 71 of Nebraska’s 93 counties did indeed see increases in total full-and parttime employment between 2008 and 2012. Job losses where they did exist tended to be associated with Metropolitan and Micropolitan core counties and were, in some cases, quite sizeable. ...
While the most recent recession may not have actually led to overall job losses in Nebraska, it may have accelerated the trend toward greater self-employment, and this may be especially true in rural portions of the state.