April Tri-Cities wages continue growing at faster pace than job creations


Private sector wages in both Tri-Cities metro areas continued trending higher in April with the Johnson City year-over-year comparison hitting a four-and-a-half-year high.

Preliminary, non-adjusted data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the year-over-year average wage in the three-county Johnson City area were up 8.1%. The Kingsport-Bristol average was 3.3% higher than April last year.

Wages have increased faster than non-farm job creations since December, but it hasn’t effected either metro area’s state standing.  Johnson City wages have been the lowest or next to lowest in the state for over a year. Kingsport-Bristol’s ranking a little higher. The private sector average for both areas has traditionally been among the lowest in the state.

April’s average in Kingsport-Bristol was $655 a week and $626 in Johnson City.

Adjusted for inflation against a 2008 pre-recession benchmark, Johnson City metro area private sectors workers have $25 a week less buying power while those with Kingsport-Bristol jobs have $25 a month more buying power.

The wage increase trend plus lower gasoline prices are the drivers of the region’s increase in retail sales tax collections. Consumers have also been tapping their credit lines.  April’s seasonally adjusted collections were 6.2% higher than April last year in Kingsport-Bristol and 5.6% better in the Johnson City metro, according to MTSU’s Department of Economics and Commerce. The Kingsport-Bristol increases led the state several time during the past 12-month period, but those peaks have been followed by equally steep declines. At the same time, the Johnson City trend has been a steady increase sans the dramatic highs and lows.

The private sector wage is the only monthly salary metric, but it doesn’t tell the full story.  The BLS’s quarterly survey of county wages is a good counterbalance to the private sector month wage. It also shows a higher average.

Here’s what the most recent quarterly total wage, the year-over-year change and buying power after adjustment for inflations against the pre-recession benchmark is for the counties that make up the Tri-Cities’ two metro areas.

KINGSPORT-BRISTOL

Sullivan Co. – $861, up 3.4% Buying power up $28

Hawkins Co. – $709, up 5.5% Buying power up $33

Scott Co. VA – $598, down 0.3% Buying power down $16

Washington Co. VA. – $670, down 0.1%  Buying power down $8

JOHNSON CITY MSA

Washington Co. – $733, up 1.8% Buying power up $46

Carter Co. – $594, up 5.3% Buying power up $9

Unicoi Co. –  $771, down 0.3% Buying power up $48

 

 

 

 

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