Friday, July 26, 2013

Sevier County Economic Update

During the boom-to-recession portion of the business cycle, Sevier County’s employment performance tracked quite closely with that of the state and the nation. Even in the early days of the expansion (2010), Sevier County found itself improving before its neighbors. However, by 2011, most of its previous job gains had evaporated. In mid-2012, the county found its economic footing once again with a surge in new employment. But, in the first months of 2013, history repeated itself with the disappearance of job growth.

The remaining economic indicators are generally positive—with a few minor bumps. Here’s the basics:

  • The county’s year-over growth in nonfarm jobs measured a meager 0.1 percent in March 2013. This 10-job gain is still better than the job losses shown earlier in January.
  • Losses in mining, manufacturing, wholesale trade, professional/business services (which includes “temp” agencies) and leisure/hospitality services almost offset the gains generated in other industries.
  • Transportation and private education/health care/social services created the highest number of net new jobs with a little help from retail trade and construction.
  • Although job gains remain erratic, the jobless rate in Sevier County continues to head on down the road. In June 2013, the unemployment rate stood at 5.7 percent—down almost a full percentage point from June 2012. 
  • New 2013 claims for unemployment insurance have settled into a seasonal rather than cyclical pattern. The construction industry shows the highest number of new claim filings for 2013 which is typical due to the on-again, off-again nature of the business.
  • After six years of home-permit contraction, Sevier County is showing off a 40-percent increase in the number of new dwellings permitted in the first three months of the year. Of course, it’s early days yet in 2013 and too soon for celebration on the home front.
  • Nonresidential permitting for the first quarter of 2013 dropped compared to the same time period last year. However, nonresidential building typically lags behind a surge in homebuilding.
  • While Sevier County’s gross taxable sales have not shown consistent gains over the past several years, seven quarters out of the last nine quarters have experienced year-to-year expansion. During the first quarter of 2013, sales rose by a moderate 4.5 percent.
  • New car and light truck sales took a nice 44-percent year-to-year bump in the first quarter of 2013.