Kingsport-Bristol Jan. job, pay growth leads Tri-Cities

A drill-down on January job sectors data show the Kingsport-Bristol labor market continues a stronger recovery posture than the Johnson City MSA.

Nonfarm jobs in the region made a big, but uneven, year-to-year gain. Kingsport-Bristol jobs rose to and exceed the pre-recession in the closing months of 2015 and extended that into the first month of this year while Johnson City is still thousands of jobs below where it was in 2008, the year before the Great Recession hit the local economy.


Tri-Cities show strong Jan. job gains; Kingsport-Bristol above pre-recession level


Preliminary, no-adjusted Kingsport-Bristol date show nine of 12 job sectors were in the year-to-year growth column in January. The easiest way to monitor job sector growth is with MTSU’s monthly heat charts. It tracks the year-to-year growth in a color-coded format.

Construction is the strongest growth sector in Kingsport-Bristol. It has been positive since June last year. The MSA’s largest jobs provider – manufacturing – is flat while wholesale trade is the only sector in negative territory.

While jobs in the three-county Johnson City MSA are not improving at the same pace as they are in its neighbor, eight of 12 sectors are positive. The strongest growth is where you would expect – education and health services. Financial activities, professional, manufacturing and business services and other services are also sector growth leaders.  Construction is flat and the only negative sector is transportation and utilities.

January’s data is preliminary and not seasonally adjusted. Due to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics’ annual revision the January and February data is released in March.

Kingsport-Bristol heat chart

Johnson City heat chart

Private sector pay also increased in both Tri-Cities MSAs in January.

Kingsport-Bristol private sector workers fared better during the recovery than those in Johnson City. The January weekly average was $648, $17 a week better than January last year.  It was the 16th straight week the average improved over the same month of the previous year. The increase is indicative of both the type jobs being created and a gradual overall wage growth rate. Adjusted for inflation from the pre-recession benchmark Kingsport-Bristol private sector workers had $28 a week more buying power.

The average weekly wage in the Johnson City MSA in January was $593 a week, up $24 from the same month last year. Johnson City broke a 35-month year-to-year decline in its average wage May last year. It has improved every month since then. However, it still lags when wages are adjusted for inflation. January’s adjustment shows workers had $47 a week less buying power than they did in January 2008.

The Johnson City MSA also had the lowest average private sector wage in the state in January.

The Bureau of Labor Statistic’s total wage comparisons are not available on a month-to-month basic but shows stronger quarterly growth the average private sector wage – especially in the Johnson City MSA.



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