Tri-Cities labor market shows strong April growth – jobless rates at pre-recession levels


By DON FENLEY

nonfarm jobsTri-Cities labor market was on fire in April after modest growth during the first quarter.

Preliminary,  non- seasonally adjusted numbers released Thursday from both the payroll and household surveys show strong job creation and employment growth compared to March and April last year. Unemployment rates in the area’s three major cities are at pre-recession lows.

April’s numbers are preliminary so expect some revisions when May’s reports are released. But that doesn’t cloud this year’s four-month trend line.

NONFARM JOBS UP 3.6% FROM APRIL LAST YEAR

Employers added 2,500 nonfarm jobs in April. Compared to April last year there were 3,600 more jobs in the area. (The numbers are rounded in the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports)

TRI-CITIES UNEMPLOYMENT RATE AT 83-MONTH LOW

The seven-county unemployment rate dropped to 5.3%. It’s lowest mark since May 2008.

EMPLOYMENT AT 29-MONTH HIGH

The number of people who reported they were working was at a 29-month high.

Employment has grown every month this year.

The year began with an OK report in January than showed an employment gain of a little more than 900 from December.  February was a solid improvement with growth of 3,012 from January. Growth slowed to 1,838 in March compared to February.  April’s employment was the best of the year – so far. Almost 4,200 more reported they were working than in March.

April put local employment back to a 2012 level.  From a trends perspective that’s significant because 2012 is the year the local labor market began a double-dip after a pretty good from the Great Recession. It now looks like that double dip bottomed in December 2014.

HOW PAYROLL, HOUSEHOLD NUMBER DIFFER

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 jobs on the MSA level, but it does not include agricultural jobs and omits some self-employment, part-time and contract jobs.

The household survey provides a broader picture of employment including agriculture and self-employment. It’s focus is on the number of people employed and those looking for a job. It’s also used to calculate the unemployment rate.

REALITY CHECK

While the labor’s market’s growth during the first four months of this year is encouraging the sobering reality is both employment and nonfarm jobs are still significantly lower than they were before the recession.

April’s employment is 15,602 lower than it was in April 2008.

April’s nonfarm job total is 2,800 lower than it was in April 2008.

And the quality of the jobs added since the recession is mixed.

While the number of high-paying jobs has increased most of the jobs growth has come in the service sector where many of the jobs are part-time jobs with few if any benefits and at the low-end of the pay scale. While private-sector wages in the Kingsport-Bristol MSA have increased when adjusted for inflation, private sector workers in the three-county Johnson City MSA have seen their average wage decline.

A separate pay report will be filed early next week.

Here’s how April’s employment, jobs creation and unemployment numbers look in the region’s two MSAs:

JOHNSON CITY MSA – 5.4%

Employers added 1,200 jobs in April. Last month’s nonfarm job total is 1,300 better than it was the same month last year. April was the third straight month of job creation growth.

Employment grew by 1,749 compared to March and was 2,882 better than it was April last year. Employment has increased every month this year when compared to the previous month.

The unemployment rate is the lowest since May 2008.

KINGSPORT-BRISTOL – 5.2%

Employers added 1,300 jobs in April. It was the third straight month of job creation growth and 2,300 jobs better than the total April last year.

Employment was up 2,444 in April and 3,406 better than it was the same month last year. On the month-to-month metric employment has increased for four straight months.

The unemployment rate is the lowest since May 2008.

Here’s how the employment numbers looked in the area’s three major cities: (nonfarm job creation numbers are not available on the city level)

BRISTOL – 5.4%

There were 234 more people who reported they had jobs than in March. Compared to April last year employment is up 372.

When compared to the previous month, employment has increased every month this year.

The unemployment rate is the lowest since November 2008.

JOHNSON CITY – 5.5%

Employment has increased every month this year and in April was 597 better than March. On the year-to-year metric it’s up 4.3% (996) since April last year.

The unemployment rate is the lowest it has been since May 2008.

KINGSPORT – 5.5%

Employment has grown every month this year in the model city as it has in the other city markets.  April’s increase was 423. On the year-to-year metric employment has increased 3.4% (721) since April last year.

The unemployment rate is the lowest it has been since May 2008.

Tri Cities employment

 

© Don Fenley

 

 

 

 

 

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