Kingsport sees sharp employment increase in Jan., but not Bristol or Johnson City

Jan Y-Y cities 600 PP

Data source: Non seasonally adjusted data from the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development and Bureau of Labor Statistics.

January saw a sharp upturn in Kingsport employment but no such change in Johnson City and Bristol.

According to unadjusted numbers from the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development,  19,580 Kingsport residents had jobs in January. That’s 750 more than the December total and 440 more than the same month last year. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.8%.

The state report shows 28,910 Johnson City resident had jobs. That’s down 340 from December and 810 fewer than January last year.  The unemployment rate dropped to 6%.

Bristol’s number of employed residents was 11,700, down 130 from December and 322 fewer than January last year. The unemployment rate dropped to 6.4%.

The Johnson City and Bristol jobless rate declining while employment didn’t improve is typically the results of people leaving the workforce. Reasons included retirement and becoming discourages and dropping out. The aging of the local population is happing at an increasing rate. Back-of-the-envelope calculations show 10 people a day in the Kingsport-Bristol MSA reach the full-retirement age of 67 every day. That will continue for more than a decade. Obviously, not all of those people drop out of the labor force. In fact, a 2008 – 2012 comparison shows the labor force participation rate is increasing for older workers.

Using a monthly year-to-year comparison of employment gains and losses as a trend tracking tactic shows the Tri-Cities job market began deteriorating in April 2012.

Johnson City saw a couple of month where there were gains but there were the exception.

Bristol has seen a year-to-year decline in employment for 22 months.  It has declined for 19 straight months in Johnson City.  January’s employment was the first gain for Kingsport since April 2012.

The other part of the local employment story has not been released yet. That part is the survey of employers and tracks where jobs are created and lost by sector. The official (U3) unemployment report is compiled from a Census Bureau survey of households. Its focus is on who is employed and looking for a job – not where they work or where jobs were created or lost.

The U6 rate is a more inclusive picture of the employment situation. It’s reported monthly on the national level only. The U6 rate counts not only people without work seeking full-time employment (the more familiar U-3 rate), but also counts “marginally attached workers and those working part-time for economic reasons.” Some part-time workers counted as employed by U-3 could be working as little as an hour a week. Marginally attached workers include those who have gotten discouraged and stopped looking, but still want to work. The age considered for this calculation is 16 years and over.

January’s U6 rate was 12.7%. In February it was 12.6%.

February local employment numbers later this month.

Tri-Cities annual jobless rates, labor force participation by age group 2008 v. 2012 

Is there a bottom-line to the Tri-Cities jobs situation? 

 Tri-Cities saw largest job losses since recession in Q4 2013; 7th quarterly jobs decline


  1. […] RELATED STORIES Kingsport sees sharp employment increase in Jan., but not Bristol or Johnson City […]

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