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.
Caroline Chen at Bloomberg has gathered some thoughts and perspective on the fact that U.S. hospitals have shed more than 9,000 jobs in the past two months. The two big trends of health care reform's implementation and outpatient care's growth are shaping that move, experts say, and will force hospital operators to make more "difficult business decisions" in the years ahead.
“It’s a much more complex answer than just cutting people,” he said. “It’s about carefully looking around your business model and asking how you can deliver higher quality care faster and cheaper. You’re not going to build that new hospital wing yet.”
The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development has released statistics showing strong future job growth in the leisure/hospitality, manufacturing and professional/business services sectors. Each of the sectors is expected to grow the number of jobs by at least 2 percent from 2013 to 2014.
Called the 2013-2014 Short-Term Industry and Occupational Projections, the figures show the annual employment and industry changes based on short- and long-term trends.
“This information can help Tennesseans distinguish the jobs and industries that will be in demand and others that may be in decline,” Martha Wettemann, a statistical analyst supervisor with the department, said in a release. “The forecast also demonstrates employment in the state that is expected to grow.”
The projections show about 3.1 million jobs for 2014, resulting in an average annual growth rate of 1.2 percent.
A big reason for the sluggishness of the recovery has been the relative lack of participation from small businesses, which have traditionally been big job growth drivers coming out of recession. (The most recent NFIB survey showed little improvement on that front.) A Goldman Sachs team has dug into government numbers and determined that a number of structural changes within the economy account for much of that trend. And that's not a great thing for the future of the economy.
Looking ahead, the Goldman Sachs economists say these factors argue that small-business hiring won’t outperform larger enterprises. But small firms will see positive hiring, especially as the housing recovery benefits small construction companies. Those jobs should be plus to overall payroll growth.
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.
After averaging almost 4 percent over the previous three months, year-over-year job growth in the Middle Tennessee area slowed a bit in March to a still-very-respectable 2.8 percent. Three sectors are in the red versus early 2012 — including, somehow, construction — but big sectors such as business services and manufacturing are still going strong.
Even though millions of people have dropped out of the U.S. labor market and the pace of job growth is agonizingly irregular, the U.S. labor market is steadily healing as evidenced by the number of job openings. But Sudeep Reddy at the Journal points out that we have plenty of mending still to do.
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.
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.