Kingsport gained more than 800 jobs in the third quarter this year vs. 2010, leading the region’s job creation in the period.
According to the latest labor market report issued Friday by East Tennessee State University, the Tri-Cities region added 3,460 jobs in the third quarter compared with the same period of 2010.
Employment gains were reported in education and health services, professional and business services, and leisure and hospitality.
Smaller job gains were reported in transport and utilities, construction, finance, and wholesale trade.
Job losses were felt in government, manufacturing and retail trade. Employment was flat in information services and other services.
Among communities in the region, Kingsport gained the most jobs with 832 in the quarter vs. a year ago.
Johnson City added 470 jobs in the quarter, while Bristol gained 505 jobs in the quarter vs. the same time last year.
While employment levels increased, so did the unemployment rate as discouraged workers began returning to the labor force. The Tri-Cities overall unemployment rate rose 1.62 percent to 8.51 percent.
In Kingsport, the unemployment rate increased 3.76 percent to 8.17 percent.
In Johnson City, the unemployment rate rose 3.17 percent to 8.63 percent.
And in Bristol, the unemployment rate increased 1.41 percent to 8.63 percent.
“The growth in employment has attracted enough discouraged workers back into the labor force so that the number of jobless workers is actually growing,” said ETSU economist Steb Hipple.
He said the region’s labor force has expanded, the area continues to post strong job gains, “and most of the jobs lost during the recession have been restored.”
“In contrast, the national labor market shows continued and troubling weakness,” Hipple said.
He said the U.S. has been adding jobs in the past year at a very low rate.
“With an annual population growth of 1 percent, employment must also grow 1 percent to keep up. Due to the Great Recession, some 17 million workers are out of jobs. To put these workers back to work in any reasonable time frame, the level of job creation must be much higher than 1 percent,” Hipple said.
He said employment and production in this country are well below the pre-recession levels of 2006 and 2007, and only slightly above the recession lows in 2008.
“From these depressed levels of economic activity, we can go up, or down, or move sideways,” Hipple said.
He said the odds of continuing weak job growth are about 50, while the odds of no growth are at 40 percent. The probability of a second recession stands at just 10 percent, he said.
“In contrast to the national situation, the Tri-Cities labor market has done very well over the past year,” Hipple said. “But the gains in the regional economy are ultimately at the mercy of national business conditions. Just as a strong national economic tide can lift all regional boats during good times, a lagging national economy could sink some regional boats.
“In the region, we need to be vigilant and prudent in preparing for the future,” he said.