Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Brief Sevier County Economic Update

Once an early achiever in the job-growth segment of the economic recovery, Sevier County’s economy appeared stagnant in early 2012. After moderate employment expansion in 2010 and early 2011, overall growth evaporated in the face of several layoffs. Job growth seemed to be resuming at the cusp of the new year only to deteriorate by March. Overall, a mixed bag economic indicators for the Sevier County economy suggests that the economy is still somewhat stressed. Here’s what the indicators say:
  • Between March 2011 and March 2012, overall employment levels in Sevier County changed little (down 0.1 percent or eight jobs). The current torpor follows on the heels of several months of rather lackluster gains—but gains nonetheless.
  • Transportation/warehousing, manufacturing, and other services generated the most new jobs.
  • A 70-job decrease is retail sales cancelled out much of the growth in other sectors—with a little help from contraction in construction, financial activities, and the public sector.
  • Recent layoffs produced a slight uptick in unemployment after a long downward trend. Sevier County’s jobless rate for May 2012 clocks in at 6.7 percent—still far below the national average and most other nonurban counties.
  • While homebuilding permits have yet to rally, new nonresidential construction permit values are up substantially in the first four quarters of 2012. Total permit values rose 21 percent from January to April 2011. This improvement could likely result in improved construction employment in the months ahead.
  • Sales also cast a favorable light on the state of the economy. In the first quarter, gross taxable sales rose only 2 percent. However, sales have increased at a moderate to strong rate in five of the last seven quarters. On the other hand, new car and truck sales are down 14 percent for the first quarter of 2012.