Tri-Cities adds more jobs in June, focus shifting to wages

June was another banner month for the local labor market – if you look at the adjusted numbers that smooth out the market’s volatility.

Employers added 1,100 jobs from the May adjusted total. The unadjusted number is a loss of 1,800 jobs from the previous month. Since the employment and labor force number are also unadjusted, they were victims of the volatility. Employment was down 2,624 from May, and the labor force lost 836 people.

So far this year, employers are averaging adding 600 new jobs a month. The region has recovered from the pandemic jobs losses and added 4,200 new jobs as of mid-year. So far, it has favored those with higher paying jobs in a classic “K” recovery.

Jobs and wages are getting extra attention as civic, business, and academic leaders jawbone about whether the economy is in recession. There have been two-quarters of decline, but the labor market is still robust. And while consumer spending is beginning to soften, it’s not what the experts look for in a recession. Consumers are adjusting spending for food, cutting back on clothing but not so much on travel.

Jobs and wages get special attention here in the Tri-Cities. Milligan University economist David Campbell was quoted by WJHL as seeing particular risk for Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia if the economy continues to weaken. He said several factors are behind this, but the region’s traditionally low wages and incomes are chief among them. https://www.wjhl.com/news/local/milligan-economist-regions-financial-profiles-heighten-risk-during-recession/?

Historically the Tri-Cities’ two metro areas are at the bottom of the list in the monthly Bureau of Labor Statistics private sector wage reports. June was no exception.

The Johnson City metro area was the lowest of state metro areas, with a $694 average weekly average in June. Kingsport-Bristol was a little better with $747. The state average was $987. Those numbers are the core weekly average and don’t include bonuses.

Here’s the current annual weekly wage averages for the workers on the state and local levels. Data Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages.

Since government is one of the top job providers in both metro areas, the average weekly wage looks slightly different when those wages and the total wages are added to the mix.

There was good wage growth last year, but that began to soften this year. The rate of wage growth has also been eclipsed by the growth rates of rents, home prices, and inflation.

Sectors that added jobs last month included:

  • Manufacturing
  • Wholesale trade
  • Retail trade
  • Professional and business services

Sectors that lost jobs were:

  • Other services
  • Government

Government had the largest month-over-month job losses, down 1,400.

The number of Tri-Cities open jobs on the Jobs4TN website dropped from 10,000 to 6,484.

Johnson City metro openings totaled 3,647 job openings in the Johnson City metro area. The top five firms with openings are:

Ballad Health – 253

ETSU- 144

Ingles Market – 111

Food City – 83

BWX Technologies – 62

The site lists 6,120 job openings in Kingsport-Bristol. The top five firms are:

  • Ballad Health – 410
  • Eastman – 264
  • Food City – 195
  • McDonald’s – 167
  • TruGreen Companies – 108


Categories: LABOR MARKET