Tri-Cities employment up in Sept., some jobless rates down 1.1%


Employment the Tri-Cities was higher across the board in September driving unemployment rates in most jurisdictions lower by a full percentage point or more.

Tri employmentThe unemployment rate for the seven-county Tri-Cities region was 6.4%, down 0.9% from August. Tennessee’s jobless rate was 6.6% and the national U3 unemployment rate was 5.7%.

According to the preliminary numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s household report there were 218,860 people with jobs in the region last month, up 2,306 from August. It was the first month-to-month gain in the since May.  The monthly declines than began in May drove employment back to recession levels. Employment in August was lower than the lowest month for employment during the Great Recession.

Compared to the same month last year the number of people reporting they had jobs was down 3,365. Employment is down by 1,578 since the first of the year.

Since these numbers are preliminary expect some adjustments when the October reports are released.

Tri employment QTRSteptember’s labor force was basically flat when compared to August. That’s good news because labor force contraction has recently been as much a driver of lower unemployment rates as higher employment. That contraction comes with the demographic shift as more and more workers reach retirement age and workers who have become discouraged and stopped looking for work.

September ended Q3 and a year-to-year employment by quarter shows employment has declined for 10 straight quarters. The Q3 broke two quarters of improving employment. That improvement never reached the zero percent line but it was trending higher.

JOHNSON CITY MSA – 6.5%, down 1%

Employment in the three-county Johnson City was 87,000, up 1,529 from August. It was the largest month-to-month employment increase this year and better than double the gains in Kingsport-Bristol. But even with September’s strong showing, employment in down 457 from the beginning of the year and 1,524 lower than September last year. A comparison by quarter shows employment was 2.03% lower in Q3 than it was during the same period last year. It has been negative on the year-to-year comparisons for the last 10 quarters.


September’s preliminary numbers show 131,860 people in the four-county MSA reported they had jobs. That’s 777 more than August. Last month’s increase wasn’t enough to make up for the losses that began in June. The employment total is down 1,103 since the beginning of the year. And when compared to September last year it’s down 1,841. A comparison of quarters show Q3 employment was 1.5% below the same quarter last year, and Kingsport-Bristol has seen only one in the past 10 quarters where employment has been positive. That came in Q2. It was 0.1% better than Q2 2013.

BRISTOL – 6.6%, down 1.1%

September preliminary numbers show 11,550 in Bristol employed, up 83 from August. Compared to September last year employment is down by 240 and 147 fewer than the beginning of the year. The labor force in Bristol has declined for the past three months on the month-to-month metric.

JOHNSON CITY – 6.3%, DOWN 1.1%

Employment in Johnson City totaled 28,610 in September, up 500 from August. Compared to September last year it was down 503 and down by 160 from the beginning of the year. The labor force also increased in September after three down months.

KINGSPORT – 6.7%, down 1%

Kingsport’s employment grew by 135 to 19,330 in September. Compared to September last year it’s down 405 and it’s down 249 from the beginning of the year. Kingsport is the only city in the local big three that has more people employed now that it did before the recession, but its proportional employment losses have been greater than the other two cities every month since June.


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  ©Don Fenley

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