August reports show continued Tri-Cities labor market improvements


Tri-Cities labor market is pushing through the seasonal soft spot and continued trending higher in August.

Preliminary, non-adjusted nonfarm job numbers from the monthly Bureau of Labor Statistics payroll report show nonfarm jobs made a 1.3% gain over the August 2014 total. August was the 27th straight month for improvements on the year-to-year jobs metric. That’s the good news. The context is 19 of those months saw job gains of less than 1%. In rounded numbers, there were 2,600 more jobs in the seven-county region in August than the same month last year.

The household survey on employment – the second labor market component – shows an expect month-to-month seasonal decline. But the year-over-year data shows the seventh straight month of increases. The long-term trend picture using a 12-month-rolling average shows a steady, sharp increase that began in January. From that perspective, employment is back in the range it was in 2012 just before employment began declining after the local jobs recovery from the Great Recession.   It was during the period the data from the payroll report and employment report were opposing – nonfarm jobs were being adding but the household survey showed employment declining. That situation caused ETSU  economist   Steb Hipple to question the accuracy of household numbers on the local level. Dr. Hipple is also a research associate for the Bureau of Business and Economic Research.

Aug Tri-Cities jobs v. employment

Year-to-year change in nonfarm jobs and employment. CLICKING ON CHART brings up a larger image.

After some an annual and the regular monthly revisions of the preliminary data the jobs and employment data are showing the same improvement trend.

There are two primary labor market reports each month. The first is commonly known as the payroll survey, and it’s just that. It’s a survey of employers about how many people are working and in what jobs.  This survey is the larger of the two reports so it’s considered more accurate. But it’s not available on the county or city levels. It also doesn’t get an accurate count of self-employed and contract workers.

12 mon rolling emp Tri

Tri-Cities non-adjusted employment with 12-month rolling average. CLICKING ON CHART brings up a larger image.

The second report is commonly known as the household survey. It focuses on localities, how many people are working and how many who are looking for a job. It’s the report that drives the monthly unemployment rate. The household survey is a smaller sample so its accuracy is at its best on the national level although it is reported on the county and city (above 25,000) level. The U3 unemployment rate – the most used unemployment rate – has also been criticized because it over-reports the status of many part-time workers i.e. some who work as little as several hours a week are counted just like a full-time worker. The U6 unemployment number, which many say is a better picture of the labor market, was 10.3% in August. That’s the lowest level since August 2008. The U6 report is not available on the MSA or below levels.

An examination of the nonfarm job growth by labor sectors is available at Tri-Cities still adding jobs, not much change in job sector patterns 

Here’s a short-take version of the local labor market reports and the August unemployment rates for the region:

TRI-CITIES – 5.8%, down 0.7%

There were 4,911 more people employed in August than August last year, an increase of 2.3%.  August was the seventh straight month employment has increased on the year-to-year metric.

The employment year-to-year rate of increase peaked at 3% in April and May, then dropped to 1.2% in June, dropped again to 1.7% in July then increased by 2.3% in August.

JOHNSON CITY MSA – 6.2%, down 0.6%

Employment increased by 2,467 people in August compared to August last year, a 3.1% increase.  August was also the seventh straight month employment has increased.

Employers added 1,400 jobs in August. This is a rounded number. When compared to August last year 1,400 jobs have been added. August was the 15th straight month for a jobs increase when compared to the same month of the previous year.

KINGSPORT-BRISTOL MSA – 5.6%, down 0.7%

There were 2,444 more residents employed in Augusts than August last year, and it was the fifth straight increase in the year-over-year metric.

Employers added 2,100 jobs from the July total, and there were 1,200 more jobs than August last year. August was the 14th straight month that nonfarm jobs posted a year-to-year increase. There hasn’t been a loss of nonfarm jobs on this metric in the past 28 months; however, there were months that the total was the same as the same month of the previous year.

BRISTOL, TN – 6%, down 0.9%

There were 250 more people employed in August than August last year. It was the seventh straight month employment has increased on the year-to-year metric. The growth rate peaked at 3.5% in April and has decreased since then. August’s increase was 2.3%.

JOHNSON CITY – 6.1%, down 0.6%

Employment increased by 883 compared to the same month last year. Employment has increased for seven straight months. This year’s year-to-year growth rate peaked at 4.8% in May, fell to 2.8% in June, rebounded to 4.8% in July and was 1.8% in August.

KINGSPORT – 6%, down 0.5%.

There were 484 more people employed in August than August last year – the seventh straight monthly increase on the year-to-year metric. This year’s growth rate peaked at 3.5% in April, dropped to 3.1% in May, declined to 2.3% in June, dropped to 2.1% in July then increased to 2.3% in August.

Tennessee’s August unadjusted unemployment rate was 5.2%, down 0.4%.

The U.S. rate was 5.8%, down 0.6%

 

 

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