October employment up across the Tri-Cities, jobless rates drop, private sector wages stagnant


October’s job creation and employment reports for the Tri-Cities dished up a familiar diet of good and not-so-good news. However, there was an extra veneer of good-news icing on the cake. Tri-Cities employment increased for the second straight month, and the three-month moving average was higher after four straight monthly declines. The three-month moving average for non-farm jobs was up for the second straight month and jobs increased for the third straight month.


Johnson City MSA employers added jobs when you look at seasonally adjusted numbers. The not-so-good news is job creation was stagnant in the Kingsport-Bristol MSA.

The non-adjusted preliminary numbers are not that different. Johnson City saw more jobs than in September and a gain of 200 over October last year. The Kingsport-Bristol jobs total was unchanged from September and 200 better than the same month last year.

Job growth by sector was covered in an earlier post:


Kingsport-Bristol construction sees another month of growth, overall Tri-Cities labor market growth spotty 


A review of sites seeking workers show there are openings for good-paying jobs for those with specific benefits; however, they are outnumbered by lower-paying, part-time positions that have been a hallmark of the recovery from the Great Recession.

Unemployment rates in the three major cities, area counties and the MSAs were down.

Johnson City 6.0% -0.3%
Kingsport 6.5% -0.2%
Bristol TN 5.8% -0.7%
Carter 6.1% -0.6%
Hawkins 6.6% -0.6%
Johnson 6.7% -0.3%
Greene 8.0% -0.9%
Sullivan 6.1% -0.3%
Washington 5.9% -0.3%
Unicoi 6.9% -0.7%


The Tri-Cities labor force was up 0.4% compared to September and down 1.9% compared to October last year. Compared to its October 2008 pre-recession benchmark, the labor force is down 6%. ETSU economists Dr. Steb Hipple said in his Q3 analysis of the labor market employment has been falling for the past 10 quarters “causing many unsuccessful job seekers to leave the Tri-Cities 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.”  An aging demographic is also a factor as workers retire and drop out of the labor force.

Employment was up across the region when compared to September’s totals. But when compared to the same month last year only Kingsport-Bristol and the Greeneville Micropolitian District had higher numbers.

Johnson City MSA 87,800 -480 798
Kingsport-Bristol 132,930 206 1069
Greeneville 26,170 1053 425
Bristol TN 11,650 -67 101
Johnson City 28,880 -153 267
Kingsport 119,500 -113 168

*Rounded totals.

The jobs and employment good news was blunted by another month of disappointing private sector wages.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Kingsport-Bristol weekly average was $617. That’s $4 a week better than the October last year. When adjusted for inflation using the October 2008 as a benchmark, Kingsport-Bristol workers had $4 a week more buying power. The 2013 annual weekly average is $623.

October’s Johnson City MSA weekly average of $583, is $2 lower than last year. When adjusted for inflation using the October 2008 average as a benchmark, Johnson City MSA private sector workers have $96 less buying power. The 2013 annual weekly average is $612.

October’s average weekly private sector wage across Tennessee MSAs and the U.S. was:

US $850
Nashville MSA $791
Knoxville MSA $750
Memphis MSA $741
Tennessee $720
Chattanooga MSA $716
Morristown MSA $642
Cleveland MSA $638
Jackson MSA $632
Kingsport-Bristol MSA $617
Johnson City MSA $583
Clarksville MSA $555
NF jobs

Months are color coded for quarters but the job totals and moving average is monthly.



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