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?
Private-sector job growth in the Nashville area fell to 0.9 percent year over year in August, the lowest number since March of 2010. Yes, we've heard for months that many local companies are sitting on their hands waiting for the political and fiscal uncertainty to be cleared up. But can we really expect a sentiment shift in 2013 powerful enough to lift job growth back above 2 percent?
Check out this chart in detail and much more data at the BERC/TACIR site.
The team at MTSU's Jones College of Business hosted its 20th Economic Outlook Conference Friday. Among the presenters was Business and Economic Research Center Director David Penn, who told attendees that there are a number of good things happening locally — the housing market is continuing to heal, our manufacturers are growing and retail sales growth is strong — but that there are plenty of factors that can derail growth in the coming years. Here are a few slides that caught our eye. The full presentation is here.
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.
Sales tax collections in Tennessee continue to climb and are now up 7.4 percent over this time last year, according to data compiled by the Business and Economic Research Center at the Jones College of Business at Middle Tennessee State University.
Seven of the state’s 10 metro areas, including Nashville-Davidson County, show increases of 6 percent or more, according to the stats.
In January 2011, Nashville-Davidson County collected approximately $132.7 million in sales taxes. In contrast, the city collected about $143.3 million in sales taxes in January 2012, a seasonally adjusted increase of about 8 percent.
The BERC, in conjunction with the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, releases the data each month.
In other statistics:
• The average weekly claims for unemployment insurance in Tennessee dipped to about 6,590 for January 2012, the state’s lowest level since April 2008.
• The state’s unemployment rate for December 2011 was 8.7 percent, slightly higher than the national figure of 8.5 percent.
The latest numbers on Nashville-area job growth from Middle Tennessee State University's Business and Economic Research Center show a number of different sectors heading in different directions: Finance, health and education are growing while transportation, government and information employers are shrinking. The end result: Year-over-year growth of 1.0 percent, down a bit from the previous six months' average of 1.3 percent.
- ALEX B FRUIN INHERITANCE TRUST; CANDACE F STEFANSIC INHERITANCE TRUST; CANDANCE F STEFANSIC INHERITANCE TRUST; FRUIN, ALEX B TRUSTEE; FRUIN ALEX B INHERITANCE TRUST; STEFANSIC, CANDACE F TRUSTEE; STEFANSIC CANDACE F INHERITANCE TRUST; STEFANSIC CANDANCE F INHERITANCE TRUST
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- COOKE, ETHEN LANYARD TRUSTEE; COOKE, ETHEN LEWIS ESTATE
- JACOBS, JESSICA ALEXANDRA; JACOBS, ERIKA BESS