Tri-Cities labor market begins clawing back job losses

Economists estimate it will take the labor market 16 to 18 months to repair the damage done by the coronavirus to the labor market.

The Tri-Cities economy began clawing back April’s massive job losses in May. It added about 2,100 nonfarm jobs and the unemployment rate dropped to 9.6%, according to preliminary non-seasonally adjusted Bureau of Labor Statistics data. May’s report also revised April’s job losses from 18,500 to 19,000.

The sector that lost the most jobs in April added the most in May. The Leisure and Hospitality sector added 1,500 jobs in May. That’s a far cry from restoring the vibrancy of the sector after April’s 7,500 job losses. That sector accounts for a little better than 11% of all jobs in the seven-county Tri-Cities area.

One notable change in the May v. April sector counts is May returned to the more normal monthly pattern of gains in some sectors and losses in others. In April every sector shed jobs.

Other Services, followed by Construction and Trade, Transportation, and Utilities also saw solid May job gains.

Government and Education and Health Services were the only sectors showing job losses last month.

New unemployment claims for the Carter, Greene, Hawkins, Johnson, Unicoi, and Washington counties for the week ending June 20, total 1,012. The continued claims column was 15,088.

Employment and the labor force also saw small gains in May when compared to April.

Unlike the local housing market, which is beginning to show signs a the predicted quick “V” shaped recovery, most economists expect it will take the economy anywhere from 16 to 18 months to repair the damage by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. And there are still question about that.

Consumers are the real deciders since consumer spending accounts for about 70% of the total economy. Currently, consumer spending is seeing a rebound, but much of that is a reaction to the “stay at home” release. Full recovery won’t come until consumers feel confident about their safety in this new economic norm of social distancing.

Categories: LABOR MARKET