Tri-Cities jobs, avg. private sector wage continue trending higher in June

Once you get past the month-over-month fluctuation and the temporary/seasonal layoffs, June was a good month on the Tri-Cities nonfarm jobs front.

1 canstockphoto10697974There were 2,000 more jobs last month than June last year. That’s the slowest growth rate so far this year, but it was also the 15th straight month of jobs growth. Those are the preliminary, not adjusted numbers from the June Bureau of Labor Statistics payroll survey. They include a 0.5% downward adjustment in May’s preliminary data for the Johnson City metro area and a 0.08% lower adjustment for Kingsport-Bristol.

Compared to June 2008 pre-recession benchmark, the region is down 3,400 jobs.

A better trend view of the job picture is offered by a three-month moving average. It takes much of the noise out of the numbers and is like having a quarterly report every month. That trend line shows the year-over-year change peaked in March at 1.9% then began arching downward. June’s increase was 1.4%.

Look at charting of the moving average and you can clearly see the jobs picture is on a positive trend footing.


On the metro area level, June’s report shows the Johnson City area has maintained a stronger growth pace than Kingsport-Bristol since April. In June the gain was 1.2% (900 more jobs than June last year). The growth rate has been above 1% for 12 months in this three-county region.

A good way to get a handle on the ebb and flow of job sectors is with MTSU’s heat charts.

Johnson City Metro heat chart 



The June chart shows growth in half of the labor sectors. It’s also noteworthy that growth is occurring in the Manufacturing and Professional and Business Service sectors. Those sectors are generally recognized for providing higher quality jobs. The Retail Trade and Leisure and Hospitality sectors are also seeing solid growth.

Information remains the biggest loss sector. It’s year-over-year tracking shows the decline has been in double digits for six months with no growth during the past 12 months.

Another thing to watch is Construction. It posted a loss in June after three solid months of growth.


June’s year-over-year growth rate dropped to 0.9% in June (1,100 more jobs than June last year.) It was the weakest showing so far this year. June was also the 10th straight month of year-over-year job growth that has ranged from 0.4% to 2.4%.

Kingsport-Bristol heat chart

June’s heart chart shows growth in seven sectors. The high points come in the Construction; Transportation and Utilities; Professional and Business Services; and Education and Health Service sectors.

June jc pay v. jobs


The Information sector has been in the red with double-digit losses since February.

Manufacturing also posted its fifth straight month of decline. The best this sector has managed is two months that flat. The rest of the time it has seen year-over-year losses.


Growth rates for June’s average private sector wage slowed in both Tri-Cities metro areas but remained on a positive trend footing.

Both Tri-Cities metro areas also consistently report a lower weekly average wage that other East Tennessee metro areas and are at the bottom of the rankings statewide.  The Johnson City metro area has been at the bottom or next to last of the rankings for the past two years.


June’s average weekly private-sector wage was $609, up from $611 last year.  It was the 11th straight month it has been better than the same month of the previous year as the region has slowly reversed a down trend that lasted for 36 months.

The not-so-good news is June’s wage was the lowest among all metro areas in Tennessee, and when adjusted for inflation it gave workers $59 a week less buying power.

June was also the first time in six months that the growth rate for the average wage dropped below the nonfarm jobs growth rate.


June KB wage v. jobs


June’s average was $657 compared to $648 June last year. It was also the 23 consecutive year-over-year monthly increase and when adjusted for inflation afforded $9 a week additional buying power.

June was the third straight month the average wage growth rate has been higher than the nonfarm job growth rate.

Kingsport-Bristol had the fourth lowest average weekly wage among other state metro areas.


I’ve saved the worst for the last. Not necessarily because the numbers are bad, but because they’re based on the Household survey. It’s the smaller of the two labor market surveys and the least reliable labor market metric. ETSU Economist and Bureau of Business and Economic Research has called the local unemployment reports the most worthless piece of data produced by the Federal Government. Steb has retired from both positions but maintains labor market and sales reports on an interim basis. He urges anyone who needs a better measure of the labor market to use the jobs data from the Payroll Report. With that caveat here’s what June’s unemployment numbers look like:

TRI-CITIES – 5.5%, up 1.3%

JOHNSON CITY METRO – 5.6%, up 1.4%


BRISTOL, TN – 6.4%, up 1.7%

JOHNSON CITY – 5.4%, up 1.4%

KINGSPORT – 5.5%, up 1.2%


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