Q3 analysis shows Tri-Cities still shedding jobs; October report shows jobless rates drop


ETSU Economist Steb Hipple’s Q3 labor market report shows the U.S. economy was creating new jobs at a significant rate while the Tri-Cities region continues to shed jobs.  Ultimately, the strength of the national economy will cause a turnaround in Tri-Cities business conditions.  

The question is when?”

According to Dr. Hipple’s analysis,   “ In the region, employment has been falling for the last 10 quarters, causing many unsuccessful job seekers to leave the Tri-Cities CSA and relocate to other areas.  As a result, the level of unemployment declines, the unemployment rate falls, and the labor force becomes smaller.  Taken together, these are signs of a weak regional economy.

               Looking ahead, the national economy is expected to continue its slow but steady growth.  Recent data on employment, production, and retailing are consistent with this scenario.  The Tri-Cities economy continues to be mired in a business slowdown which is shown in the regional data for employment and retail activity.  We continue to wait for the strengthening U.S. economy to provide a boost to business conditions in our region.


According to Dr. Hipple’s report, “Existing labor market trends dominated the Tri-Cities Consolidated Statistical Area (CSA) in the third quarter.  Compared to the same period in 2013, regional employment was lower by 1.7% to 218,244, while unemployment fell 10.3% to 16,664 as discouraged job seekers continued to leave the regional labor force.  The summer unemployment rate for the metro area was 7.1% (compared to 7.7% a year earlier).  With the labor force shrinking by 2.4%, the falling jobless rate is a sign of labor market weakness.

Among the twelve regional NAICS industry sectors, employment levels were higher in six, lower in six, and unchanged in none (compared to six, four, and two in the second quarter).  Job growth was led by construction, professional & business services, other services, and education & health services.  Smaller employment gains were reported by transport & utilities, and leisure & hospitality.  Major job losses occurred in retail trade, government, and manufacturing.  Small employment declines were reported by wholesale trade, information services, and financial services. Overall, the private sector in the metro area saw modest job growth.”

 His report for local cities says, “ During the July to September period, employment was lower in all three cities – falling 2.2% in Kingsport, 2.0% in Johnson City, and 1.2% in Bristol.  Matching the regional pattern, large numbers of unemployed workers are exiting the labor market in each city.  This has lowered the jobless counts, contracted the labor force, and reduced the unemployment rates.  The percent of workers unemployed was 7.0% in Kingsport, 7.1% in Johnson City, and 7.1% in Bristol.  As in the metro area, the lower rates in each city reflect labor market weakness.”

Dr. Hipple’s full Q3 report and data can be found by CLICKING HERE.

Meanwhile, preliminary city and county employment and jobs reports for October were also released today.

That Bureau Of Labor and Workforce and Bureau of Labor Statistics reports puts the current Tri-Cities unemployment rate at 6%, down 0.4% from September.

The preliminary non-adjusted unemployment rate for the Tri-Cities’ three largest cities is:

  • Bristol 5.5%, down 0.7% from September.
  • Johnson City 6%, down 0.3% from September.
  • Kingsport 6.5%, down 0.2% from September.

A full report on nonfarm jobs and employment for the cities will be filed in Core Data Friday.


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