Heat charts show July Tri-Cities job growth and a worrisome pattern

There’s no question that the Tri-Cities’ labor market is improving. But there also no question that the growth is a little on the anemic side. The worrisome jobs pattern takes on an extra dimension if you factor in the likely outcome of a pending health care consolidation in the region.

One of my favorite trend tracking sources for jobs the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations’ heat charts that can be found on MTSU’s Business and Economic Research Center’s Web site.

Look at the July chart for the Johnson City MSA and you’ll quickly see that only three sectors show fewer jobs than there were July last year.

Look at the Mining, Logging and Construction sector and you’ll see three months of solid year-over-year growth. That’s a good thing because most of those are construction jobs and they pay fairly well.

But the strongest growth sector is Leisure and Hospitality, and a trademark of this sector is jobs that don’t pay very well, offer few – if any benefits – and many tend to be part-time. It’s good growth, but not the bedrock building type jobs that lead to a vibrant middle class.

The chart can be found at http://capone.mtsu.edu/berc/tacir/johnsoncityjobs.html

Kingsport-Bristol shows a better July year-over-year and job growth trend picture, but there are two worrisome sector movements.  Those coveted construction jobs that are increasing in the Johnson City MSA have been on a five-month year-over-year decline in Kingsport-Bristol. And the information sector has been down 5% for the past three months.

Some of Kingsport-Bristol’s strongest job growth is in the weaker-paying sectors – retail trade; leisure and hospitality; other services.

It’s a better picture – but similar to the pattern in Johnson City – the strongest growth is in weaker-pay sectors.

The Kingsport-Bristol chart can be found at http://capone.mtsu.edu/berc/tacir/kingsportbristoljobs.html

Tennessee’s jobs heat chart can be found at http://capone.mtsu.edu/berc/tacir/tennesseejobs.html. It illustrates the reality that the Tri-Cities labor market has and continues to perform at its own pace – one that trails the rest of the state.


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