Fingers crossed this is just a summer swoon: Middle Tennessee employers slowed their hiring pace in July, causing year-over-year growth to slip below 1 percent for the first time in more than a year. The broad business services field slowed dramatically and the trade sector was mixed, but durable goods manufacturing — think autos first and foremost — is growing at its 12-month average and information jobs are trying desperately to post positive year-over-year numbers. Of note is that the construction sector — a relatively minor employer by direct numbers — is losing ground even though many in that business see work picking up.
The July numbers put us about where we were late last year, when the trend also had been slipping for a few months. If you can't quite make out the numbers in the chart below, here's a bigger version.