Tri-Cities job creation sputters in July; jobless rate drops to 3.9%


TRI-CITIES, Tenn. – Unlike the surprise the national economy delivered by producing double the number of new jobs economists expected, the local job creation machine sputtered in July.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) adjusted payroll report, there were 100 fewer non-farm jobs last month than in June. The non-adjusted number was much bigger, but the adjusted total gives a better picture of what the market’s doing by smoothing out the month-to-month volatility.

So far this year, the Tri-Cities economy has added an average of 500 new jobs a month. It has been in the range of 500 to 600 a month since February, with only two monthly losses.

July’s loss should be recouped when the labor market shakes off its summer doldrums, and the back-to-school numbers begin showing up.

The overall jobs picture shows the seven-county area has recovered the jobs lost during the pandemic and added a little more than 4,000 new jobs.

The region’s unemployment rate dropped to 3.9% due to a monthly labor force decline close to double the employment decline.

Jobs increased in the wholesale trade, professional and business services, and education and health care services, but it wasn’t enough to offset losses in the manufacturing, leisure and hospitality, and government sectors

There are currently 9,709 open jobs in the region, according to the Jobs4TN website. That total is slowly coming down from its 10,000 plus open jobs in April.

Ballad has the most job openings (almost 1,000) in both the Johnson City and Kingsport-Bristol metro areas. ETSU, Eastman, and grocery stores are among the top five with the most open jobs.

The current county labor force participation rates in the region are:

Carter – 52.9%

Greene – 50.6%

Hawkins – 50.1%

Johnson – 58%

Sullivan 53.4%

Unicoi – 49.2%

Washington – 58.7%

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Categories: LABOR MARKET