By DON FENLEY
TRI-CITIES, Tenn. – Employers added 100 jobs in November, many of them in sectors hardest hit during the pandemic. So far this year, the Tri-Cities area economy has been adding an average of 345 jobs a month.
The region’s headline unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.4%.
Like the national market, the local labor market has shown resilience despite efforts by the Federal Reserve to cool the economy. That continues to stoke fears about higher inflation.
What has local officials worried is the region’s lagging labor force and labor force participation rate. Although the local economy has clawed back jobs lost to the pandemic and added almost 4,000 new jobs, the labor force is down 7,537 from the pre-pandemic benchmark. Employment is down 7,297.
The Tri-Cities labor force declined by 2,600 from the previous month in November, and there were 192 fewer people employed. The labor force has fallen in five of the past six months, and county labor force participation rates (LFPR) lag the national average anywhere from five to 10 points. Much – but not all – of the labor force issues can be attributed to a rapidly aging population.
Sullivan’s LFPR is 51.8%. It has declined for five straight months. The Washington Co. rate has ticked up for the last two months and is 57.5%.
The state rate is 59.5%, and the U.S. rate is 62.3%.
Labor sectors that added jobs in November were retail trade, leisure and hospitality, transportation and utilities, professional and business services, other services, and government. The only sector with job losses was manufacturing.
According to the Jobs4TN website, the NE Tenn. Labor demand is high. There are 8,383 job openings in NE Tenn. Employers with the most open jobs are:
Ballad Health – 940
Ingles Markets – 246
Food City – 192
East Tennessee State University – 138
Eastman Chemical Co. – 81
Categories: LABOR MARKET