June's job growth numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics didn't deliver great news. The 2.8 percent increase from mid-2013 is absolutely nothing to sneeze at, but it is the lowest number since December. Notable drivers of the slowdown were the information and finance sectors, which are both clearly shrinking, as well as manufacturing, which grew at less than half its Q1 average.
On the flip side, construction, professional services and hospitality employers continue to chug along. But getting back above 3 percent and staying there until we get to 2015 will require other sectors to play a healthier role.
On the face of it, Nashville's job creation machine is humming along solidly, having posted year-over-year growth of at least 3 percent for 10 of the last 12 months. Worth noting, however, is that the composition of that growth has changed quite a bit in recent months. The construction and business services sectors continue to sprint ahead, but manufacturing job growth has been cut in half and information jobs have been in the red two of the past three months. Helping offset those slowdowns is better growth from transportation/utilities employers and — slight gasp — the first positive government employment numbers since October. Trends worth watching...
Middle Tennessee's job engine appears to be humming along nicely so far in 2014. Through the first three months of this year, area employers have grown their collective staff by an average of 3.2 percent. Leading the way have been construction and professional and business services — the latter likely including a number of staffing company positions that will work their way into other sectors on the stat sheet in the coming months. Also worth noting is the growing strength in retail and relative weakness in the finance sector.
The Nashville MSA's job market kicked 2014 off with a bit of a bang, growing 3.7 percent from the year before. A surge in construction employment that began in December carried through to January — we're betting February won't be as strong with all the winter storms — while the business services and leisure sectors also posted strong numbers. Bringing up the rear in January were the government and education/health sectors.
The government's January numbers included a recalibrated set of 2013 data that pegged Nashville's growth rate for the year at 2.7 percent. That's not bad — and more than double the state's 1.1 percent — but more than a point below 2012's 3.9 percent. Check out all of the state's numbers here.
The housing market in Tennessee continues to improve, says David Penn of MTSU's Business and Economic Research Center, but not as quickly as it has in recent quarters. One bright spot is that the number of distressed properties continues to trickle downward. Case in point: The number of foreclosure starts around the state in the third quarter was the lowest in seven years.
Nashville-area job growth clocked in at 4.0 percent in July, suggesting there's no let-up in the strong trend we've seen for the better part of two years. Manufacturing growth slowed a bit, but a big bounce in information jobs and a continued ramping of construction jobs bode well for the coming quarters. Over the past 12 months, Middle Tennessee employers have posted average year-over-year growth of more than 3.7 percent.
Exports from Tennessee grew just 1.3 percent from the year before in the first quarter of 2013, due mainly to weak demand from Canada, which is by far the state's largest global trade partner, and China. Looking more broadly at the state's place in the international trade system, MTSU professor Steven Livingston points out that our trade relationships now look a lot more like they did in 1990 than in 2000.
Around the state, some 9 percent of homeowners are still behind on their mortgages and the trend isn't very positive right now. The latest issue of Tennessee Housing Market from the team at BERC has those details and more.
SEE ALSO: We should be selling a lot more houses from Friday
Nashville-area employers are still hiring new workers at a good clip, according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Since a big late-2012 revision, downright gaudy growth numbers from the durable goods and business services sectors have helped the Nashville area post year-over-year growth of almost 4 percent. Now helping the overall number is a government sector that's no longer shrinking, although local technology boosters will want the red number in information to quickly fade this summer.
Speaking last week to the Nashville Risk Management Association, economist David Penn had a decently upbeat outlook for Nashville's economy in the coming year. Penn, director of the Business and Economic Research Center at Middle Tennessee State University, said manufacturing and professional services companies are driving the jobs train but that construction job growth is "sputtering" — despite a 60 percent jump in permits from a year ago. Overall job growth is expected to be in line with 2012's 1.7 percent. You can view and download Penn's full presentation here.