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.
Middle Tennessee's workforce grew by 0.5 percent in November from a year ago, according to federal numbers curated by the Business and Economic Research Center at MTSU. Last month featured the seventh straight drop of at least 2 percent in government employment and the fourth straight in which financial-company employment was off at least 2 percent from a year ago. On the plus side, both manufacturing and professional services job growth stayed solid, and retailers were employing almost 5 percent more people than in late 2011. We'll have to see if that last stat has legs or was primarily the result of hiring pulled forward from December.
We can only hope that September was the bottom.
Nashville-area employers grew their payrolls by 0.5 percent year over year in October. While that's nothing to brag about, it still was the highest level in three months. September's total nonfarm employment, which had been slightly negative when first reported, was revised up to 0 percent. Retailers and business services firms accounted for the biggest October bouncebacks, while only the education/health, leisure and government sectors posted worse numbers than in September.
The latest building permits statistics digested by the Business and Economic Research Center at Middle Tennessee State University show that the growth in Tennessee building permits is trailing the South's and the nation's by quite a margin — especially with the apartment pipeline growing smaller. You could interpret this statistic in two ways: Either the state's residential builders, still chastened by the recent bust, are being veritable paragons of restraint. Or the shadow inventory of property still held by our banks is large enough to put a damp rag over new construction activity. What say you?
Nashville's job market is back in the red.
Numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics had Middle Tennessee employers finish the month with 759,200 people on their payrolls, a drop of 800 from August. It also was the first time since the spring of 2010 that total nonfarm employment fell below its prior-year level. Want more bad news? August's growth, previously estimated to be 0.4 percent, was downgraded to 0.1 percent, continuing a serious summer slowdown.
Eight of the major sectors tracked by the government and tabulated by the Business and Economic Research Center at MTSU showed year-over-year drops, "led" by wholesale trade, construction, government and finance. Even retail, which had held its own since the spring, slipped into the red. So the big question is whether the uncertainty from the election and the fiscal cliff is solely to blame. Hiring managers out there, what's your take?