So we can't point to the harsh winter weather anymore, right?
Year-over-year job growth in the Nashville MSA clocked in at 2.7 percent in April, in line with the previous two months. As far as we can tell, it's the first time in more than three years that Music City has put up three straight months of sub-3 percent growth. Smaller gains in construction didn't help, but that sector employs less than 40,000 of the region's almost 900,000 workers so it can't really have a big impact. Of bigger import has been the dropoff in growth in the business services and hospitality sectors, which combine to employ more than 240,000 people. On the plus side, manufacturing, retail and education/health are holding their own.
So... This set of numbers showing Nashville job growth staying well under 3 percent for the second straight month was probably due to the weather, right? For the sake of It City, let's hope the late-winter snows are to blame. It's likely the weather is the cause of the construction sector's drop into single-digit growth for the first time since October. But a number of other sectors also were well off the pace they had set early this year. Come next month, they'll have to pick up the pace.
Nashville-area employment growth slipped to 2.6 percent in February, its slowest pace in at least a couple of years. The biggest contributors to the slowdown — which would seem to have been heavily influenced by the disruptive winter storms — were the manufacturing, business services and leisure sectors.
The number of Nashville-area jobs rose by 3.4 percent year over year in January, the fastest pace in four months. The construction sector somehow added momentum and was up more than 12 percent while the transportation and utilities industries rebounded from some slow months to end 2014. The important factory, retail, education and health sectors kept right trucking from where they left off last year. Looking ahead, we'll be keeping our eye on February's numbers for any impact from the winter weather blasts we had to endure.
The Nashville-area economy created 25,600 jobs in 2014, according to preliminary numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and compiled by MTSU's Business and Economic Research Center. The 3.1 percent growth rate was a bit higher than 2013's but down from the white-hot 3.9 percent pace of 2012. The region's construction sector will look back on the year with fond memories of double-digit growth, and business services companies continue to create hundreds of jobs each month. But look at the education and health services line in the chart below for what could be an important emerging trend. After treading water for the first eight months of the year, those two local economic heavyweights picked up the pace in a big way in the fall and ended the year having added 3,600 jobs. Without that surge, we wouldn't have reached 3 percent overall growth for the year.
Heading toward the end of 2014, the Middle Tennessee job market was weaving some interesting narratives. The construction sector's growth picked up speed in November, clocking in at a whopping 13 percent, and the important health/education, retail and durable goods manufacturing sectors were holding their own. But overall growth was pulled back a bit because of growing softness in hospitality employment and a further slowing in the broad business sector, which was up "just" 6 percent year over year versus 10 percent in September. Check out all these numbers and more high-level data at the website of MTSU's Business and Economic Research Center.
Few economic indicators are as lumpy month to month and quarter to quarter as construction permits. But there's no ambiguity in the Middle Tennessee numbers these days: Multifamily construction is on fire — and almost single-handedly responsible for the statewide 40 percent jump in permits from a year ago.
The chart below shows the Nashville-area January-to-October multifamily permit totals for each year dating back to 2005. The year-to-date number for 2014 is roughly the same as the combined figure for 2012-13 activity and only a bit less than the total from the first 10 months of 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 combined.
Nashville-area employers grew their payrolls by 3.1 percent in September versus a year ago, smack dab in line with the 2014 average. The business services and construction sectors are still surging ahead while the education and health sectors offset a slight slowdown in manufacturing. It's also worth noting that just one of the main sectors tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shrank from a year ago. It's the first time since January that has been the case.
The Middle Tennessee jobs machine rebounded a bit in August, putting up year-over-year growth of 3.1 percent — the first time since May it topped 3 percent. The big change from the previous month came from the leisure and hospitality sector, which reversed its July losses to get solidly back in the black. Also contributing was the sizzling construction market — which offset a slowdown in factory job growth — and the nebulous "other services" basket.
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