Tri-Cities loses jobs in December, unemployment rate increases

Tri-Cities jobs declined in December for the first time since April. The preliminary, unadjusted Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) payroll report puts the loss at 400 jobs – 200 when seasonally adjusted.

The unemployment rate increased to 6% as employment sank by almost 3,700 and the labor force declined by almost 1,000 people.

New unemployment claims also increased. That’s consistent with the statewide trend. There were 2,980 continued new claims in the NE Tenn. region for the week ending Jan. 28

December’s job loss was a continuation of a declining growth rate that began in September. The employment and labor force slump was a sharp decline from November. It followed the earlier released national labor market report, which was a discouraging reversal for the once-promising recovery. The local economy is still 10,400 jobs below what it was December last year and a little over 9,000 from the 2019 annual total.

The final monthly and annual BLS adjustments for the jobs count will be available in upcoming reports.

The labor market decline was expected since the stimulus money from the first Covid-19 relief package have fizzled out, and the next rounds of packages have not reached full capacity. The economy is expected to pick up with those relief packages and the steady – but slow – advance in vaccinations.

The Tri-Cities lost 18,400 jobs when the market crashed in April. As of last month, the economy has reclaimed about 10,000 of them.

Most of the gains since April have been in the Leisure and Hospitality sectors. The Trade, Transportation, and Utilities plus the Other Services sectors saw strong gains. The only sectors with losses are the Government (down 1,500) and the Information sectors.

Compared to the jobs total at the beginning of the year Professional Services and Trade, Transportation and Utilities are the only sectors with jobs growth. The biggest loss continues to the business hit hardest by the pandemic – Leisure and Hospitality.

The Jobs4tn website lists 3,800 jobs advertised in the four-county Kingsport-Bristol Metropolitan Statistical Area. Demand is listed as medium.

Food City had the highest number of advertised jobs in December (116), followed by Eastman (64), Ballad Health (55), and Hardee’s (55).

Sullivan and Hawkins counties are the Tennessee counties in the MSA.

The website lists 2,498 advertised jobs in the three-county Johnson City MSA. Demand is listed as medium. Food City had the highest number of openings (115), Aerojet Rocketdyne (82), East Tennessee State University (81), and Ballad Health (46).

Washington, Carter, and Unicoi counties are included in the Johnson City MSA.

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Categories: LABOR MARKET

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