By DON FENLEY
TRI-CITIES, Tenn. – The local labor market is losing some momentum. But it’s so slight it hasn’t caused a ripple in the local economy. Employers added 700 seasonally adjusted jobs in September, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
So far this year, new job gains have averaged 356 a month. The average peaked in June then began receding. That’s the momentum loss. But when you’re adding about 11 new jobs a day it doesn’t raise red flags. Wage demands and the labor shortage command more attention. Employers continue struggling finding workers in the service and accommodations sectors which dominate the open jobs.
Every sector except Retail Trade and Financial Activities added jobs last month. The lion’s share came in the Government sector. Most were in the Johnson City metro area.
Unemployment dropped to 3%. The number of people in the labor force dipped for the fourth straight month, but only by 27 people. Those who had jobs increased by 1,024 from the previous month after declining for three months.
The Jobs4TN website continues listing the local job demand as medium, and the open jobs total is below 10,000 for the fourth straight month. The current count is 9,286.
Here’s how Middle Tennessee State University and the state Advisory Commission of Intergovernmental Relations rank the region’s year-over-year jobs picture:
Transportation and utilities are the Johnson City metro’s biggest gainer, up 11.1%. Construction is 7.4% higher. Retail Trade is up 6.6%. Professional and Business Services have gained 5.2%, and Government is up 4.6%.
Job losses include Retail Trade, down 3.8%, and Health and Educational Services, down 0.7%.
Kingsport-Bristol’s best growth is in the Hospitality sector, up 9%; Wholesale Trade, up 5.9%, Manufacturing, up 4.5% and Education and Health Care Services, up 3.5%.
The largest loss is in Construction, down 3.6%, and Government, down 0.7%.
Highest job demand in the seven-county region is in Retail Trade, Health Care and Social help, and Accommodation and Food Service.
Private sector wages softened in both local metro areas last month. The Johnson City metro average was $22.09, down from $22.45 the previous week. Kingsport-Bristol’s average was $21.07, down from $21.17. The statewide average is $28.41.
Categories: LABOR MARKET