February jobs, unemployment data due later this week

PP Tri-Cities employment 3 mo mov avgPPFebruary’s employment and job creation data are due later this week.

It will be the second look at the employment sector since the harsh reality of the Q4 labor market analysis.

In that analysis, ETSU Economist Dr. Steb Hipple pointed out that the Tri-Cities metro area had suffered the largest job losses since the recession year of 2009.  “The annual data for 2013 reflect the growing weakness in the labor market. The disparity between large job losses and smaller unemployment changes is reflected in the drop in the labor force numbers,” he pointed out.

“In the region, employment has been falling for seven quarters, and the job losses in the fourth quarter were twice that of preceding quarters.  Unemployment levels are starting to climb and the overall labor force is contracting as discouraged workers end their fruitless job searches.

“ Based on the fourth quarter performance, the economic outlook for the new year has become more uncertain.  The national economy, even if it returns to the slow growth path of the past two years, will still not be able to create jobs at a meaningful level.  Millions of workers will remain outside of the labor force and suffer the consequences of long-term unemployment.  The Tri-Cities economy has been looking to growth in the U.S. economy to improve regional business activity.  This might be a long wait,” he added.

Since then there’s been a glimmer of improvement in the number of non-farm jobs

Looking at the year-to-year monthly tracking  shows that number  began turning in December and continued into January.  The January total shows more non-farm jobs than January 2013. While that’s encouraging it’s too early to begin celebrating. Reserve that until there’s enough gain to turn the three-month moving average for at least six months.  And even then, you have to consider how deep the employment dip went and that employment as reported in the household survey and the non-farm job total reported in the payroll survey don’t always match.

The January household employment survey taken for the U3 unemployment rate reported 220,970 people employed in the Tri-Cities. That preliminary figure will likely be revised this week, but such revisions are not dramatic.

When compared to January 2013, last month’s Tri-Cities employment was down by 4,970 people.

A three-month moving average put the number higher, but not enough to move that employment metric higher.  The advantage at charting  the three-month moving average is it takes out the month-to-month swings and gives a clearer trend picture.

Charts for the Tri-Cities  CSA and the Kingsport-Bristol and Johnson City MSAs tell varied stories, but the extent of the employment decline shows each MSA and the region have a lot of lost ground to recover.

Chart timeline Jan 2008 – Jan. 2014 


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