1,500 new jobs put a dent in Tri-Cities labor shortage

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Tri-Cities employers added 1,500 jobs in May. Employment increased by 1,497.  The unemployment rate rose to 4.4%. And there were 6,559 job openings, according to Jobs4TN.com . That website listed the region’s labor market supply/demand status as “median.” The top skill requirement for advertised jobs was the email marketing program Constant Contact.

Jobs growth averages 560 a month

Non-farm jobs were adjusted up by 200 from April in the non-adjusted version of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) payroll report. So far this year, the local economy has added an average of 560 new jobs a month.

May’s largest job gain came in the struggling Leisure and Hospitality sector, which is dominated by accommodations and food services. It added 600 jobs. Since this time last year, it has added 3,800 jobs. It’s still down 1,600 jobs from the pre-pandemic annual total.

Restaurants are hobbled by a labor shortage. During the last week of June there were 657 accommodations and food services jobs being advertised.  Some have reduced hours and services to ease the load on their staff.  Trade publications have estimated that as many of 20% of those employed in food services before the pandemic have found – or are seeking – jobs elsewhere and won’t return. Workers in this sector have never had it so good. Some who have returned are getting bonuses. Others have seen wages and working conditions improve as owners push to return to pre-pandemic levels.

Other sectors adding jobs in May were:

  • Manufacturing, up 200
  • Trade, Transportation and Utilities, up 500
  • Government, up 200

Education and Health Services was the only sector reporting the loss of a job. It was down 100.

The jobs total is up 12,400 since May last year. That was the first month after the pandemic crash when employers slashed 19,600 jobs. Compared to the May 2019 pre-pandemic high, the region is down 5,800 jobs.

Unemployment rate up

The number of people employed was up in May. So was the labor force. But unemployment also increased. That caused the unemployment rate to increase to 4.4%.

The most current population data estimated there’re 293,633 people aged 20 to 65 in the region. There were 216,321 (73.7%) people in that prime working-age group employed in May and 225,332 (76.7%) in the labor force. The number of people unemployed was 100,011, up 496 from April. Twenty-one percent of the region’s residents are 65 and older.

Johnson City metro area jobs

There are 2,538 jobs being advertised in the three-county Johnson City MSA. The top five firms advertising and the number of jobs are:

  • Ballad Health – 336.
  • ETSU – 111.
  • Food City – 100.
  • State of Franklin Healthcare – 50.
  • McDonald’s – 47.

Here’s the breakdown of the advertised jobs by employer type:

  • Unclassified establishments – 844
  • Health Care and Social Assistance – 615
  • Retail trade – 378
  • Accommodations and food service – 215
  • Administrative and Support – 128
  • Education Services – 117
  • Manufacturing – 115
  • Wholesale trade – 50
  • Professional, scientific and technical services – 44
  • Construction – 32

Kingsport-Bristol metro area jobs

There are 4,021 jobs being advertised in the Kingsport-Bristol area. The top five firms and the number of jobs are:

  • Ballad Health – 462
  • McDonald’s – 205
  • Food City – 192
  • General Dynamics – 157
  • Eastman Chemical – 95

Here’s the breakdown of the advertised jobs by employer type:

  • Unclassified firms – 1,434
  • Health care and social assistance – 865
  • Retail trade – 660
  • Accommodation and food services – 442
  • Administrative and support – 195
  • Education services – 134
  • Manufacturing – 106
  • Wholesale trade – 83
  • Professional, scientific, technical services – 57
  • Construction – 57

Wages and hours worked

Johnson City metro area private-sector workers averaged 32.9 hours a week on the job in May and had an average weekly salary of $633.98.

Kingsport-Bristol metro area workers were on the job for an average of 35.1 hours. They had an average weekly salary of $734.64.

Statewide private-sector workers averaged 36 hours a week and had an average salary of $943.92

The average salaries in the BLS private sector report do not include bonuses.

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