Tri-Cities nonfarm jobs hit 7-year high in Oct.; employment up for 9th month


October’s labor market reports show Tri-Cities nonfarm jobs at a seven-year high while employment  logged its ninth straight month of year-to-year gains.

Tri - jobs employment chThe Bureau of Labor and Statistics’ payroll report put the rounded number of nonfarm jobs in the seven-county region last month at 204,200. That’s 400 more that the October 2008 total – the year before the Great Recession hit the local economy.  A comparison of  employment for the same period shows the number of people employed last month at 216,260, down almost 19,000 from the pre-recession benchmark.  Employment has been steadily growing this year after bottoming out from a slide that began in late summer 2012. Nonfarm jobs have  posted year-to-year gains every month since June 2013.

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.

JC jobs employment chThe second report is 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 U3 unemployment rate citied in most government and media reports.

Balancing what both reports are saying is important because each survey has strengths and weaknesses. For example:

-The jobs report tends to under report  many self-employed people or contract workers. That element of the labor market has seen substantial increases since the recession.

– The household report is a much 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 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 9.8% in October. That’s its lowest level since June 2008. The U6 report is not available on the MSA or below levels.

Kb jobs employment chFor almost two years the local jobs and employment numbers opposed each other. The number of jobs was increasing but employment was declining. That was the basis for ETSU Economists Dr. Steb Hipple’s comments after the release of his Q1 labor market analysis questioning the accuracy of the local employment data. That report can be found by CLICKING HERE.

That situation reversed after the first quarter of this year when employment began showing increases tht followed the job creation pattern.  Since then the labor market has seen solid growth – especially in the Johnson City MSA.  Employment across the region has increased at a faster year-to-year monthly rate than jobs since April.

One other consideration that factors into the October jobs – employment pre-recession contrast is demographics. The Tri-Cities has a higher median age than the state and nation so it’s on the leading edge of the tidal wave of Baby Boomers reaching retirement age. And, the recovery from the recession has seen a significant number of jobs typically held by Baby Boomers in their late 50s and early 60s eliminated.  Some of those individuals have retrained for other jobs, some have left the area, some have taken jobs in other fields and others have retired or dropped out of the labor force.

October’s preliminary, not adjusted labor force was 228,740, down 20,720 from what it was in October 2008. At the same time the labor force has been increasing at an average monthly year-to-year  rate of 0.8% since the beginning of the year. In actual numbers it has been higher when compared to the same month of the previous year since April.

Here’s the snapshot of October’s reports. The number following the locality is October’s unadjusted unemployment rate. Numbers from both the jobs and employment reports are not seasonally adjusted and preliminary, which means there will be some revisions when the numbers for November show up next month.

TRI-CITIES – 5.5%, down 0.3%.

Since September’s, employers added 900 nonfarm jobs. Compared to October last year the job total is up 3,200 as the region’s labor market continues to strengthen – especially in the Johnson City MSA.  The number of nonfarm jobs added this year-to-date is 2,300.

This year’s year-to-year average monthly job growth rate – 1.5%. In October it was 1.6%.

Employment last month was up 1,945 from September and 5,403 better than October last year.  Year-to-date employment was up 6,360.

The 2015 year-to-year average monthly growth rate –  1.6%. In October it was also 1.6%.

 This year’s year-to-year average monthly labor force growth rate – 0.02%. In October it was 0.5%.

JOHNSON CITY MSA – 5.7%, down 0.5%.

 The three-county Johnson City MSA saw a solid employment increase in October while new job creation has plateaued on a 1.6%-to-1.7% growth rate range for the past three months.

Employers added 400 jobs in October. So far this year they are up 900. Compared to October last year they are up 1,300.

Compared to the October 2008 pre-recession benchmark, the number of jobs is down 300.

Year-to-year average monthly jobs growth rate 1.7%.  Last month it was 1.7%.

The household survey shows 80,000 employment last month. That’s 1,097 better than September and up 2,169 from October last year.  So far this year the employment total is up 2,747. When compared to the pre-recession benchmark employment in the Johnson City MSA is down by almost 11,000.

The year-to-year average month employment growth rate 2.1% this year. In October it was 2.6%.

The labor force has increased every month since April. This year’s year-over-year average monthly growth rate is 1.3%. In October it was 1.8%.

KINGSPORT-BRISTOL MSA – 5.3%, down 0.2%.

Although the year-to-year growth nonfarm job and employment rates in this four-county MSA are not as large as increases in the Johnson City MSA it did not suffer the same degree of losses in the post-recession slump. It also had more nonfarm jobs in October than it did in October 2008.

Last month employers added 500 nonfarm jobs. So far this year jobs have increased by 1,400, and when compared to October last year they are up 1,900.

The year-to-year average monthly job growth rate is 1.4%. In October it was 1.6%.

During the first 10 months of this year employment is up 3,395. When compared to October last year it’s up 2,118 and it increased 848 from September.  When compared to October 2008 employment in the four-county MSA is down about 8,000.

The 2015 year-to-year average monthly average employment rate is 1.3%. In October it was 1.6%.

The Kingsport-Bristol labor force is seeing a year-to-year average monthly growth rate this year of 0.4%. In October it was 0.2%.

 BRISTOL, TN –  5.6%, down 0.5%.

So far this year employment has increased 384 in Bristol. October saw an increase of 68 from September. Compared to October last year it’s up 219.

Employment is a little over 1,000 lower that it was in October 2008.

The year-to-year average monthly employment rate so far this year is 1.7%. In October it was 2.6%.

Bristol’s year-to-year average monthly labor force growth rate is 0.21%. In October it was 0.6%.

JOHNSON CITY – 5.5%, down 0.4%. 

During the first 10 months of this year employment has increased by 999 in Johnson City. October saw an increase of 240 from September. Compared to October last year it’s up 771.

Employment is down almost 2,000 when compared to October 2008.

The year-to-year average monthly employment growth rate this year is 2.16%. In October it was 2.9%.

Johnson City’s labor force is seeing an average year-to-year monthly growth rate of 1.7%. In October it was 2.6%.

KINGSPORT – 5.4%, down 0.5%

 So far this year employment is up 753. In October it was up 240 from September and 550 better than October last year.

When compared to October 2008, employment is about 8,000 lower.

Kingsport’s 2015 average monthly year-to-year employment growth rate is 1.7%. In October it was 2.6%.

The average monthly year-to-year labor force growth rate is 1.2% so far this year. In October it was 1.7%.

Tri-Cities employment

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