Local jobs growth slowdown masks relative strength in biggest sectors

The trend is unmistakable: Job growth in the Nashville MSA has petered out as 2012 has progressed. The data housed at MTSU's Business and Economic Research Center is clear on that. But look beyond the top line and there is some solace to be had.

Our four largest private-sector employment groups — education/health, professional/business services, retail and leisure, which combine for more than half our jobs base — all grew by at least 1 percent in the year ended Aug. 30. Worth noting is that health and education jobs grew at their fastest pace in 10 months while retail hiring held its own during a summer that was rough on many other sectors. (Word that HCA will bring hundreds of new jobs to Midtown over the next few years will help sustain that trend.)

Admittedly, even those numbers are no great shakes. But they do offset losses in other sectors such as government, finance and wholesale trade. And you can't help but think that the slam-the-brakes slowdown in professional services hiring growth has something to do with the looming fiscal cliff. Resolve that issue and there's a good chance we bounce back to growth of 4 percent or more.