Services, autos power MSA job gains

A lot of national economic indicators may still be wishy-washy at best, but it's hard to ignore the strong Middle Tennessee jobs data of late. The team members at MTSU's Business & Economic Research Center have crunched the March numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which are highlighted by the following:

• Manufacturing growth has rebounded nicely since January, powered by durable goods — which in the Nashville area means the automotive sector is hopping.

• Service companies are leading the way. Professional and business services jobs have averaged growth of 7.1 percent so far in 2012 and the 'Other services' category has averaged more than 6 percent growth.

• Something to watch on the downside: Education and health care employers, which began tightening the reins last fall, show no signs of ramping up hiring.