Tri-Cities labor market hangs onto slight trend improvement despite seasonal jobs pinch


JUNE nf jobsBy DON FENLEY
The Tri-Cities labor market felt the traditional summer jobs pinch, but maintained a tenuous toehold on a long-term uptrend.

Preliminary non-adjusted numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show a 2.8% drop from May’s nonfarm jobs total in the Johnson City MSA. It was a 0.9% drop in the Kingsport-Bristol MSA. The number is a little sharper in Kingsport-Bristol due to a downward adjustment in May’s total.
BLS seasonally adjusted numbers put the seasonal drop at 0.4% in Johnson and 0.3% in Kingsport-Bristol.

While the drop put a ding in the slowly improving job numbers, the seasonal decline rate tend is less than what it was before the Great Recession. The other bit positive news is the year-over-year numbers have both MSAs at a 0.1% improvement. The percent change in the three-month moving averages is better for Kingsport-Bristol, but weaker for the Johnson City MSA. Unless there’s a change in the seasonal pattern, the unadjusted numbers will also be soft in July then begin ticking up in August. If the year-over-year data holds June’s small gain the region’s slow uptrend will have weathered the seasonal downturn on the positive side.

Johnson City’s preliminary June total is 600 jobs below where it began the year while Kingsport-Bristol has 900 more nonfarm jobs than it did in January.

The largest May-June job losses came in the government sectors in both MSAs.

In the non-government job sectors Johnson City saw an increase while Kingsport-Bristol saw a loss.
A private-sector drill down shows Johnson City lost mining and construction jobs. Kingsport-Bristol employers added jobs, but not enough to wipe out the Johnson City loss.

Manufacturing was flat in Johnson City while Kingsport-Bristol employers added jobs for the first time in three months. June’s unadjusted numbers show the Model City’s manufacturing sector at the same level it was at the beginning of the year and even with June last year.

Retail jobs were up in both MSAs.

Professional and business services took a hit in Kingsport-Bristol but grew in Johnson City.

Kingsport-Bristol added jobs in the education and health care sector while Johnson City saw a loss.

Johnson City added jobs in the leisure and hospitality sector while Kingsport-Bristol lost jobs.

Other services jobs were flat in Johnson City and down in Kingsport-Bristol.

Transportation and utilities, financial activities and information were flat in both MSAs. Last month’s information sector layoffs were small enough not to move the rounded BLS numbers.

Both MSAs saw losses in wholesale jobs.

June’s heat charts from MTSU’s Bureau of Economic Research will give a broader perspective of the market’s sector performance when they’re posted.

State seasonally adjusted numbers show the largest June nonfarm employment losses were in mining/logging/construction, government, and other services. Over the year, nonfarm employment the largest increases occurred in professional/business services, leisure/hospitality, and trade/transportation/utilities.

June’s preliminary Tennessee unemployment rate increased 2/10 of a percent to 6.6%.

The U.S. preliminary rate for June was 6.1%, down from 6.3% in May.

June’s local unemployment numbers will be available later this week.

©Don Fenley

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