Kingsport-Bristol wages up in July, Johnson City MSA wages in negative territory

Kingsport-Bristol private sector wages posted another increase in July while Johnson City MSA workers saw their pay slip back into negative territory.

July was the 12th straight month Kingsport-Bristol the average weekly wage increased on the year-to-year metric.


The top chart is the year-to-year gain/loss in the private sector average wage for the Tri-Cities MSAs. The bottom chart is the year-over-year change in the average private sector work week.

A difference phenomenon is occurring in the three-county Johnson MSA. The average weekly private sector wage there has been positive twice in the past 39 months.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, private sector workers account for 88.1% of the Kingsport-Bristol nonfarm jobs, and 81.7% of the Johnson City MSA.

Overall wages are improving; however, the Johnson City private sector hasn’t bounced back in the recovery as well as Kingsport-Bristol. So far this year improvement in Johnson City has been monthly declines have been less that what they were last year in month except January, May and June.

May and June are the months where there were gains.

The July Kingsport-Bristol average was $633 a week, down from $648 in June. It was $602 July last year. If the average follows the traditional pattern it will slowly increase until November then dip as the year ends.

July’s Johnson City MSA weekly average was $597, down from $604 in June and $605 July last year. The monthly pattern in Johnson City is for the average increase until October then softens the last two months of the year.

Average work week

Average weekly hours in the four-county Kingsport-Bristol MSA was 36.5, up from 36.2 in June. During the same month last year the average was 35.1

Johnson City workers typically see a shorter average work week and July was no exception. The July average was 34 hours, down from 34.7 in June. It was 35.1 July last year.

Inflation and buying power

When adjusted for inflation against the July 2008 pre-recession benchmark, the purchasing power in Kingsport-Bristol was up by $3. That’s the lowest monthly number this year.

When Johnson City’s average is adjusted against the 2008 pre-recession benchmark the buying power was down $66. That adjustment has been negative every month this year.

Tri-Cities wages rank low in state comparison

Knoxville and Chattanooga are the only East Tennessee MSA that had a July private sector average wage higher than the state average in July. That’s normal in the state rankings.

Kingsport-Bristol has moved up a place in that ranking this year, while the Johnson City MSA has consistently been the lowest or next the lowest in the state.

Cost of Living is a factor

Unfortunately I haven’t found a cost of living index based on the MSA level to factor it into the wage comparison. We do know the Tri-Cities have a lower cost of living that the national average. But most of those comparisons are made on the city level.

Sperlings’ BestPlaces has a tool to compare the cost of living with other cities

Area pay


Tri-Cities July labor market shows growth despite seasonal softness

July jobs empThe Tri-Cities’ labor market saw typical seasonal softness in July compared to June totals. But non-adjusted, preliminary nonfarm job and employment data showed six straight months of year-over-year growth.

And the picture gets stronger with the 3-month moving average. It points to five straight months when both data sets show growth. It hasn’t been that way from quite a while (see Tri-Cities labor market continues positive trend ).

July jobs pulse

Nonfarm jobs and employments are expressed in thousands. The jobs number is the from the payroll report for the region’s two MSAs. Employment tracks the number of people who have jobs regardless of where the job is located. .

One illustration of how much the two labor markets were out of sync is the payroll report shows the number of nonfarm jobs in the region positive every month since June 2013 when compared to the same month of the previous year. At the same time the employment report was negative for 20 straight months.  That doesn’t make sense. ETSU economist Dr. Steb Hipple put it this way in a recent interview, “You can’t have one survey going up and another going down and claim they’re observing the same phenomena.”  The data we have watched and payed the most attention to is the household (employment) survey, but it’s “telling a story that is apparently wrong.” Dr. Hipple said he does not see a problem with the household data on the national level. It’s the local level where he has an issue.

The two reports synced in February with a weak employment gain that grew and peaked in April then softened with a seasonal pattern. So far there hasn’t been an explanation of why the employment and job data that had been in opposition suddenly were back on the same track. But what the situation has pointed out is the employment data from the household survey – and the monthly unemployment rate derived from it – should take a backseat to the payroll survey for those who want or need more reliable labor market data. Unfortunately, the payroll survey data is available only on the MSA level.

With that said, here’s how the July unemployment rates looked for the Tri-Cities:

TRI-CITIES – 6.5% unemployment, up 0.1%.

JOHNSON CITY MSA – 6.8% unemployment, up 0.1%

KINGSPORT-BRISTOL MSA – 6.3% unemployment, up 0.1%.

BRISTOL, TN – 7% unemployment, up 0.2%.

JOHNSON CITY – 6.7% unemployment, unchanged from June.

KINGSPORT – 6.5% unemployment, up 0.1%.

The monthly labor sector heat charts that track labor sectors’ year-over-year growth or contraction will be linked as soon as they are issued. Until then here’s a link to the post with the June heat charts.

June Kingsport-Bristol and Johnson City MSA heat carts 


Tri-Cities foreclosure, delinquent mortgage rates remain at pre-recession levels



Foreclosure and delinquent mortgage rates remained at pre-recession levels in June, according to CoreLogic.

The Kingsport-Bristol foreclosure rate has been at 0.48% since April. That’s 0.16% less than it was June last year and the fifth straight month this year that it has been below the pre-recession norm of 0.5%.

Mortgages that were 90-days or more delinquent in June accounted for 2.58% of the four-county region’s outstanding mortgages, down 0.60% from the June 2014 rate.



In the Johnson City MSA foreclosure rate dropped to 0.52% in June, down 0.22% from the same month last year.

Delinquent mortgages in the three-county MSA were 2.48% of outstanding mortgages, down 0.41% from June last year.

Foreclosure activity in both Tri-Cities MSAs was lower than the national benchmark for June.

The U.S. foreclosure rate was 1.28% and the delinquent mortgage rate was 3.51%.

Carter and Unicoi counties are the areas the Johnson City MSA where current foreclosure activity is rates highest – and that’s moderate (1.3-2%) on the CoreLogic metric.

A northwestern section of Hawkins County is the only area in the region with a high foreclosure rate (2.8%) in June. There are five portions of the four county region seeing moderate activity.

Washington County VA is the only county in the four-county Kingsport-Bristol MSA where the entire county is seeing moderate activity (0.8%).

CoreLogic’s 90+ Day Delinquency Rate measures the percentage of loans that are more than 90 days delinquent, including those in foreclosure and REO (real estate owned).

The foreclosure rate measures the percentage of loans in some stage of the foreclosure process. A foreclosure is defined by the legal process by which an owner’s right to a property is terminated, usually due to default. This does not represent the number of new foreclosure filings as provided by other data companies, but rather the current stock, or inventory, of loans in the foreclosure process which offers a comprehensive view of foreclosure trends. CoreLogic has approximately 85 percent coverage of foreclosure data.


Tri-Cities counties’ all-cash home sales continue outperforming national market share

The share of all-cash homes sales in the Tri-Cities was higher than the national share again in July.



According to RealtyTrac’s July Home Sales Report all-cash buyers accounted for 22.6% of all single family home and condo sales in July, down from 23.7% in June  and down from 26.5% in July 2014 to the lowest percentage of cash sales in a month since July 2008 – a 7-year low, and down from the most recent peak of 39 percent in February 2013 (highest going back as far as RealtyTrac has national data, January 2000)

Every Tennessee County in the Tri-Cities region exceeded not only the July national share but the June and July 2014 U.S. benchmarks.

The local smaller county markets continued all-cash deals at a higher rate than the larger counties with a half or more share in Johnson and Greene counties.

The RealtyTrac U.S. Home Sales Report provides percentages of  sales that are sold to cash buyers by state and metropolitan statistical area. It is derived from recorded sales deeds and loan data. Statistics for previous quarters are revised when each new report is issued as more deed data becomes available for those previous months.

RealtyTrac defines all-cash purchases as sales where no loan is recorded at the time of sale and where RealtyTrac has coverage of loan data.


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