Johnson City metro, Kingsport-Bristol May wage increases higher than job creation rate

May was another good month for Tri-Cities workers.  Year-over-year private sector wage rates for both metro areas were higher than the job creation rate, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Q4 numbers for total wages came in strong.

Johnson City metro job creation surge highlights Tri-Cities labor market report 

Johnson City metro private sector wages have outperformed Kingsport-Bristol every month this year in a strong reversal for the 35-month thumping they took beginning in the spring of 2012 through the spring of 2015.

pay v jobs


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the weekly Johnson City metro average in May was $631 a week. That’s 3.2% better than May last year. But Johnson City workers have a way to go before making up for the salary erosion. When May’s weekly average is adjusted for inflation against the May 2008 pre-recession benchmark, workers had $32 a week less buying power.

Kingsport-Bristol’s May weekly average was $652 a week, up 2.9% from last year. When adjusted for inflation workers had $17 a week more buying power.

During the period when Johnson City wages were getting hammered, Kingsport-Bristol was making slow gains. Over the months, Kingsport-Bristol’s average displaced the Johnson City metro as the Tri-Cities area with the highest private sector wage.

Neither local metro area moved its ranking among other state metro areas.

Johnson City had the lowest average weekly wage in the state while Kingsport-Bristol held down the fourth from the bottom position

Knoxville had the highest weekly average in the state at $884 a week, $4 a week better than the national average. Kingsport-Bristol also ranked behind other East Tennessee metro areas.

Just released Q4 2015 data for total wages from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages show improvement across the board:

Here’s how those preliminary averages stack up for the jurisdictions in the two Tri-Cities metro areas. The Q4 average is listed first followed by the buying power after an adjustment for inflation from the Q4 2008 pre-recession benchmark.

  • Carter County – $619 – Up $9 a week
  • Unicoi County – $814 – up $26 a week
  • Washington County TN – $748 up $36 a week
  • Sullivan Co. – $877 – up $10 a week
  • Hawkins Co. – $725 – up $15 a week
  • Scott Co. VA – $599 – up $1 a week
  • Washington Co. VA – $692 – up $8 a week
  • Bristol TN – $707 – up $66 a week.



  1. […] Johnson City metro, Kingsport-Bristol May wage increases higher than job creation rate  […]

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