Benchmarking the local employment and jobs picture’s performance since the recession

March’s U.S. jobs report showed businesses added 192,000 jobs and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.7%.

The local March numbers won’t be available until later this month. If they follow the national trend that will be good news because they have been moving in opposition to the national market for quite a while.

The local economy went into the Great Recession a year later than the nation. It also saw an early recovery. During that recovery the local job creation rate was better than the national rate for over a year. That changed in mid-2012.

The jobs and employment losses began to change in the waning months of 2013, but it wasn’t enough to change the shocker that our area saw its biggest job losses since 2009 in the fourth quarter of 2013.

Non-farm jobs were added in the first two months of this year, but the numbers weren’t enough to turn the three-month moving average trend.

The charts with this post are benchmarks for employment and non-farm jobs, a look of the gain or loss in each job sector of the area’s two MSAs and a snapshot of where the jobs were in February.

The non-farm jobs numbers are a product of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly payroll survey while the employment numbers are a product of the household survey.

The unemployment rate in the Tri-Cities was 7% in February, up from 6.7% in January.

The national average workweek rose to 34.5 hours from 34.3 hours in the March report.

February’s local report put the average work week for Johnson City MSA private sector workers at 3.4 hours down from 35.3 hours in January.

The average in the Kingsport-Bristol MSA was 34.7 hours, down from 35 in January.

The broadest measure of labor market picture is the BLS’s U6 report. It includes part-time employees who prefer full-time jobs and those who’ve given up looking for work, as well as the unemployed — ticked up to 12.7% from 12.6%.  The report is not broken down to the local level.


Clicking of chart will render a larger version.



 The number of jobs in thousands is a rounded number. The chart on the left is for the Johnson City MSA. The one on the right is the Kingsport-Bristol MSA.


 Percentage gain or loss of jobs in February from a pre-recession benchmark.








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