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.



  1. Thanks Don Fenley for publication and interpretation of the latest local Realtor sales data. And thanks to NETAR for recording and compiling the sales data. Such data is important in assisting buyers, sellers, and Realtors with decisions regarding potential transactions!

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