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.
The U.S. Labor Department will release two more sets of jobs market numbers between now and Election Day and President Obama will be looking for much better than he got this morning. Yes, the unemployment rate dropped to 8.1 percent but only because the labor force participation rate fell to its lowest point in three decades. CNNMoney's Chris Isidore writes about the many young people dropping out of the job market, while writers at Bloomberg look at how the Romney campaign will benefit from the weak numbers. Meanwhile, the broader U6 unemployment rate — which includes people not actively looking for work — dipped to 14.7 percent but has been churning since the beginning of the year.
The leaders of the Tennessee Baptist Convention have told the organization's staff that 16 of them will soon be without jobs, cuts that will let the organization divert $1 million per year. Executive Director Randy Davis says the move isn't about the economy but does talk about the classic path of "right sizing" in the face of deep structural changes.
Reversing a half-century-long decline in the number of people reached and baptized in Tennessee must become a reality in the state, Davis said.
"Seeing more people reached with the Gospel, baptized and becoming fully devoted followers of Christ through healthy and empowered churches is the target. That is our clear direction," he emphasized.
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.
Saint Thomas Health Services execs have eliminated about 100 positions at their flagship facility and another 50 at Baptist Hospital. The cuts amount to about 2 percent of the regional hospital system's staff. Getahn Ward has the details.
All support areas of the two hospitals were affected, with most departments seeing two or three jobs cut, Climer said, adding that no cuts were made in clinical areas or at the system’s hospital in Murfreesboro. More than half of the affected positions were already vacant or open, she said.
Manufacturer Genesee A&B announced Monday it will invest $2.1 million to expand its operations on Eastgate Boulevard in Mt. Juliet. The project will create 34 jobs for Genesee, which is headquartered in Texas and also runs a plant there. The company supplies its custom parts to a wide range of industries.
“Due to increasing demand and steady growth, the investment in our Mt. Juliet facility will allow us to better serve the needs of our customers,” Jeff Wilson, general manager, Genesee A&B, said. “We appreciate the support from local and state officials to make this expansion a reality and look forward to continually being a part of the Wilson County community.”
James Janesky at Avondale Partners says investors who cheered Friday's July jobs report shouldn't expect more of the same from August. His team's survey of 28 key indicators "was as weak as we have seen it over the past year," with 18 numbers going backward and only seven improving.
A handful of industries made exaggerated movements in July employment, and we expect these figures will be adjusted out in future reports. The sum of the above outliers nets out to about a 55,000 addition to July private job growth, without which the number would have come in at +115,000 to +120,000. And that modest level is about where we believe the US labor market realistically performed in July.