Johnson City metro leads Tri-Cities Nov. sales tax collections

November sales tax collections were up again in November, and the Johnson City metro area led the Tri-Cities’ growth for the third time this year.

sales taxAccording to the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations and MTSU’s Department of Economics and Finance November report, Knoxville led East Tennessee’s year-to-year growth in November while Kingsport-Bristol’s growth was at the bottom of the list. That’s the smallest gain the four-county metro area has recorded during its roller-coaster performance so far this year. Growth has been in the double digits five times, and it has led the state several times.

Johnson City’s performance hasn’t seen the peaks its neighbor to the north has seen. Instead, it has recorded consistent, less volatile performance every month except March when both MSAs dipped into negative territory.

sales tax shareJohnson City also closed its share of total Tri-Cities collections last month with an almost equal split with its larger neighbor to the north.

Here’s how those seasonally adjusted collections look ranked by year-to-year growth.

Knoxville – up 11%.

Morristown – up 9.1%.

Johnson City – up 5.2%.

Chattanooga – up 4.8%.

Kingsport-Bristol– up 3.7%.


Kingsport-Bristol all households – family incomes weather recession better than Johnson City MSA

k-B income

These charts were developed from total income and benefits portions of the DP03 data sets (Selected Economic Characteristics) in the 1-year American Community Survey from 2008 and 2014 to gauge Great Recession driven changes in the Tri-Cities.

The 2008-2014 change charting shows that the four-county Kingsport-Bristol has weathered the recession better than the three-county Johnson City MSA in the total household and JC incomefamily income categories.


The next set of charts will the changes in per capita, nonfamily incomes and how workers – male and female – fared.





Tri-Cities private sector wage up in Nov, Johnson City drops to last place in state comparison

Private sector wages increased 1.5% in the Johnson City MSA in November. It’s the fourth straight month the average has increased this year, but it wasn’t enough to keep the three-county area from dropping into last place in a ranking of wages across the state.

Wages were also up in the Kingsport-Bristol MSA, but only by 0.2%. However, the weekly year-to-year average has increased every month this year in that four-county area.

November’s average private sector wage was in the Johnson City MSA was $599. It was $590 November last year and $599 in November 2013.

The average in Kingsport-Bristol was $637, a dollar higher than the same month last year.


When last month’s weekly wage in the Johnson City MSA is adjusted for inflation from a November 2008 pre-recession benchmark it had $47 a week less buying power.

Buying power for Kingsport-Bristol private sector workers increased by $16 a week when the same inflation adjustment is made.


In a trend that hasn’t received much attention, Kingsport-Bristol has become the MSA with the highest average private sector wage in the Tri-Cities.

When compared against the averages for 2008 – the year before the Great Recession hit here – Johnson City’s average wage was higher that it was in Kingsport-Bristol in 11 out of 12 months.  It was a pattern that was in place for several years that was reversed by the recession and the recovery in the Johnson City MSA.

Government jobs have an 8% higher share of all jobs in the Johnson City MSA than they do in Kingsport-Bristol.



The average hours worked increased in Johnson City last month while they declined in Kingsport-Bristol

November’s average in Kingsport-Bristol was 36.4 hours, down from 36.9 November last year and from 36.7 in October.

In Johnson City it was 34.5 hours compared to 34.6 the same month last year and 34 hours a week in October.

When compared to a pre-recession benchmark Kingsport-Bristol private sector workers worked an average of a half an hour a week less last month while their counterparts in the Johnson City MSA were working 0.2 fewer hours a week.


The annual median salary for a full-time man in the Kingsport Bristol MSA in 2014 was $41,874. The median wage for a woman working full-time there was $31,453. The median for all workers was $26,142.  October’s average annualized private sector was is $33,488.

In the Johnson City MSA the median 2014 wage for a man working full-time was $36,916. For a woman working full-time it was $30,594. The median for all of that MSA’s workers was $24,705. October’s annualized average private sector wage is $31,564.


Johnson City MSA slipped into last place in a comparison of the average weekly wages in Tennessee MSA’s in November.

Johnson City and Jackson are usually the last two MSAs in the ranking.

Morristown has the highest wage among the smaller MSA in East Tennessee while Knoxville had the highest average wage in the state last month.


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 





Strong Nov. growth pushes Tri-Cities jobs past pre-recession level

Employers added 1,600 jobs in November pushing the Tri-Cities solidly past pre-recession levels.

Look for these preliminary, non-adjusted numbers to be revised over the next two months as more current data becomes available, but adjustments on this report are usually minor so they won’t change the big picture.

nov labor marketNonfarm payrolls were up 3,300 from November last year and 2,100 better than November 2008 – the year before the local economy entered the recession.

The employment portion of November’s labor market reports also showed gains, but it wasn’t as dramatic. That’s because employment across the region was 16,661 below the pre-recession level. When those numbers return to the pre-recession level is an open question that hinges on the area’s changing demographic profile and the type jobs created during the restructuring phase of the recovery.

On a brighter note, the local employment trend has been positive every month this year except January. And, the monthly average employment increase has been higher than the average monthly number of new jobs. Compared to November last year, the number of people who reported they had a job last month was up 5,481.

There are two primary labor market reports each month. The first is the payroll survey. It’s a survey of employers and counts 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 count many self-employed people or contract workers.

The 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 used in most government and media reports.

The household report is at its best on the national level although it is reported on the county and city 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 9.9% in November.  The U6 report is not available on the MSA or below l

Here’s the snapshot of November‘s reports. The number following the locality is the unadjusted unemployment rate.

TRI-CITIES – 5.4%, down 0.1%.

So far this year employers have been adding an average of 320 new jobs a month.

Employment last month was up 5,481 from November last year.  So far this year the number of people reporting that they are employed has increased an average of 510 a month.

 JOHNSON CITY MSA – 5.7%, no change.

Job creation in the three-county Johnson City MSA has been growing at the average rate of 110 a month so far this year.

November’s nonfarm jobs count totaled 80,300. That’s 600 more than October and 900 more than November last year.

During the first 11 months of this year, the number of people who reported they have jobs has increased at a rate of 261 per month. Compared to November last year, it was up 2,875.

 KINGSPORT-BRISTOL MSA – 5.2%, down 0.1%.

Employers in the northern part of the region have been adding jobs at the average rate of 210 a month this year. In November, nonfarm jobs in the four-county area totaled 125,100 – up 1,000 from October and 2,400 more than November last year.

 Employment has increased at an average rate of 336 a month. Compared to November last year employment last month was up 3,695.

 BRISTOL, TN – 5.7%, up 0.1%.

So far this year employment has increased at an average rate of 36 a month. November’s total was 346 better than November last year.

JOHNSON CITY – 5.5%, unchanged. 

Employment is increasing at the average rate of 90 a month in Johnson City. The total number of people who said they were employed last month as 800 better than November last year.

 KINGSPORT – 5.5%, up 0.1%

Kingsport employment has increased at the average rate of 70 per month so far this year. November’s total was 680 better than the same month last year.

Kingsport in the only local major city reporting a higher employment level when compared to the pre-recession benchmark. In November it was 3,516 higher than November 2008.


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