Lecia Parks Langston, Senior Economist
Currently available data show Sevier County’s economy slowing from its moderate expansion in 2012. In September 2013, the county’s nonfarm jobs had dropped by 0.7 percent in comparison with the same month in 2012. While the loss of 60 jobs is hardly devastating, job contraction is one sign of a less than robust economy.
Moreover, most industries took employment hits. Transportation, mining, leisure/hospitality services and retail trade generated some of the largest jobs losses. Fortunately, growth in construction, private education/health/social services and government helped to balance losses elsewhere.
Despite the cessation of job creation, the county’s unemployment rate continued to decline. This suggests workers have either left the labor force or have found employment outside the county. In December 2013, Sevier County’s unemployment rate estimate stood at 4.7 percent, down dramatically from the December 2012 figure of 6.3 percent.
Gross taxable sales provided another economic bright spot. Sales have shown year-to-year gains in nine of the last 11 quarters. The third quarter gain proved exceptionally strong at almost 15 percent.
While the county’s recent job loss casts a slight pall over the Sevier County economy, improvement in other indicators provide some relief. However, until the county can start generating additional employment, its economic recovery will not be complete.