Jobs in the Tri-Cities metro area declined in this year’s third quarter for the sixth period in a row, according to a report released Tuesday by the East Tennessee State University Bureau of Business and Economic Research.
Regional job levels were lower by 1.1 percent to 225,769 while the unemployment rate for the Tri-Cities Consolidated Statistical Area was 7.7 percent, compared to 7.4 percent in the third quarter of 2012.
Jobless levels were higher in all three cities, pushing the unemployment rates to 7.5 percent in Kingsport and Bristol, and 7.8 percent in Johnson City, according to the report.
Job growth in the region was led by leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, construction, retail trade and other services.
Job losses, however, occurred in government, education and health, manufacturing, information services, transportation and utilities and finance.
The report noted the national economy, meanwhile, continued to create new jobs during the third quarter. On a year-to-year basis, national employment grew 1.2 percent to 144.8 million, marking the 12th quarter in a row of overall growth and the eighth quarter of significant growth.
Nationally, job gains were led by professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, retail trade, education and health, construction and finance. Job losses were limited to the government and information services sectors.
“The overall labor market picture remains unchanged in the third quarter with the national economy adding jobs and the regional economy shedding jobs,” the ETSU report pointed out. “In 2010 and 2011, the region and the individual cities saw strong job creation while the U.S. economy sputtered along. But since 2012 the situation has been reversed with significant employment gains at the national level, while local employment levels have been dropping.”
The report also stressed some 7.1 million discouraged workers still remain out of the labor force due to the recession that began in 2008. If those long-term unemployed workers were added back into the labor force, the unemployment rate would increase to 11.4 percent, compared to the 7.4 percent official rate.
“Between the third quarter of 2012 and the third quarter of 2013, the Tri-Cities labor market lost over 2,500 jobs,” the report added. “The economic outlook remains uncertain. The national economy is expected to remain on its slow growth path, meaning that millions of workers will remain outside of the labor force and suffer long-term unemployment. The sequester in the federal government continues to reduce government employment — primarily at the state and local levels. And we are approaching the ‘budget cliff’ (congressional negotiations on a continuing budget resolution) again in January and the ‘deficit ceiling cliff’ (congressional negotiations on a debt ceiling) again in February. So there is continuing uncertainty due to the threat of another federal government shutdown.”