March sees employment gains across the Tri-Cities


March’s two labor market reports are cocked full of good news for the Tri-Cities.


Broken red line is the three-month moving average employment.

The March unemployment rate was 5.9%, down 0.4% from February. Tennessee’s preliminary rate was also 5.9% and the U.S. rate was 5.6%.

Employment across the region was a 20-month high in March and increased faster than the three-month moving average rate in February and March.  Preliminary, non-seasonally adjusted, numbers from the household survey show there were 1,939 more people employed in March than in February.  When compared to March last year, employment is up 412. And that was on the heels of a 1,025 increase in the February.

The preliminary non-adjusted payroll report shows nonfarm jobs at a seven-year high and the first time it has been past the 200,000 mark since December 2008. It also shows employers added 600 nonfarm jobs in March. Those new jobs came on the heels of a 1,400 February-January increase. Compared to March last year nonfarm jobs are up by 1,500. All of those numbers are rounded, and the March preliminary totals will see some revision when the April reports come down.

Both the payroll and household surveys are needed for a complete picture of the labor market. The payroll survey provides a gauge of monthly change in nonfarm payroll employment. The household survey provides a broader picture of employment including agriculture and self-employment and is used to calculate the unemployment rate.

March’s reports also include annual revisions and new benchmarking.

Drilling down the MSA level here’s how the region’s labor market and March unemployment rate looked:


Employment in the three-county Johnson City MSA was at a 21-month high in March.

Preliminary, non-adjusted, numbers show 959 more people employed that during February following a 1,458 February-January employment increase. The employment trend is also turning higher. March employment was 880 better than it was March last year and the second straight month on the metric. The back-to-back gains follow 34 straight months of year-to-year declines.

The payroll report shows nonfarm jobs at a five month high. Employers added 300 jobs in March and the year-to-year comparison shows a gain of 1,100 jobs.

Sectors adding jobs in March included:   Retail Trade; Professional and Business Services; Education and Health Services.


Employment in the four-county MSA was at an 11-month high in March and just shy of 500 being at the same level it was March last year.  The first three months of this year saw strong month-to-month employment growth in Kingsport-Bristol.

The payroll survey shows nonfarm jobs at the highest level since the beginning of the year and up by 400 when compared to March last year. Employers added 300 jobs in March and 500 in February.

Job sectors that saw growth last month included: Professional and Business Services; Education and Health Care; Other Services; and Government.

cities Y-Y chEmployment on the city level followed the month-over-month pattern for the region with each of the cities seeing first quarter growth. The year-to-year trend turned upward in each of the cities in October and crossed onto positive territory in February and March.

BRISTOL – 5.5%

The number of Bristol TN residents with jobs has increased every month this year and showed small gains in February and March when compared to the same months of the previous year.


Employment climbed to a 21-month high in March. Like the other labor markets, employment has increased on the month-to-month metric every month since the beginning of the year. It’s also higher on the year-to-year metric for February and March.


Employment in Kingsport was up 545 people since the first of the year. It has increased every month since January and like the other city markets is positive on the February and March year-to-year comparison.



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