Johnson City wages post strong May increase, Kingsport-Bristol down for fifth straight month

Kingsport-Bristol Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), private sector wages, declined again in May while wage growth in the Johnson City MSA continued a higher rate than the national average.


This Tri-Cities metro area wage pattern has persisted since the first of the year. Before that, both metro areas had positive year-over-year growth since January 2015.

Kingsport-Bristol also saw a 200 year-over-year decrease in nonfarm jobs, while the Johnson City MSA total grew by 1,600. The month-over-month jobs total for the seven-county region was down 1,300 from April with Johnson City seeing most of the seasonal decline.

Both the private sector wage and nonfarm job numbers are preliminary, non-adjusted number from May’s Bureau of Labor Statistics Payroll Report. The May Household Report and unemployment rates for cities and counties haven’t been released yet. Since the numbers are preliminary, some adjustments can be expected when the June report are released. Monthly adjustments for the Payroll Report are typically minimal.

The regional job creation trend line began decreasing in March. The economy is still adding jobs, but the growth rate is slowing.  And like the wage trend conditions opposite in the region’s two metro area. The three-county Johnson City MSA’s labor market and jobs economy is outperforming the pace of its four-county neighbor to the north.

When compared to May wage averages across the state Kingsport-Bristol had the lowest. The Johnson City MSA ranked sixth among the state’s MSAs. That’s noteworthy because May was one of the rare occasions when the Johnson City average was higher than Morristown ($655 last month.  Private sector wages in the Tri-Cities are typically the lowest in the state.


Knoxville had the highest May weekly average $902.

The Tennessee average was $794, and the US average was $902.


May’s weekly private sector average wage was $637.94, down $13.98 from May last year.

Private sector workers account for 86% of the nonfarm jobs in Kingsport-Bristol. The most current Census data show a full-time male worker in that area earns $42,099 a year while a full-time female worker earns $32,055. The median worker wage is $26,409.

Reports on total worker pay boosts the private sector averages. They are reported on the county level. The most current averages for counties in the Kingsport-Bristol MSA and their performance from last year are:

Hawkins – $761, up 7.3%.

Sullivan – $879, up 2.1%.

Scott Co. VA – $614, up 2.8%.

Washington Co. VA – $700, up 4.5%.


May’s weekly private sector average wage was $661.69, up $32.85 from May last year.

Private sector workers accounted for 80% of total nonfarm jobs in May.

The most current Census data show a full-time male worker in that area earned $41,781 while a full-time female worker earned $29,787. The median worker was $25,057.

The most current total worker wage and its performance for the three counties in the Johnson City MSA are:

Carter – $624, up 5.1%.

Unicoi – $789, up 2.3%

Washington – $772, up 5.2%.




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