Monday, April 28, 2014

Sevier County Economic Update

Sevier County spent most of 2013 with low-level job losses. Fourth quarter complied with this pattern. However, in the last month of the quarter, nonfarm employment exhibited a year-to-year increase of 0.6 percent. Could this be the first sign of an improving labor market? Only the future will tell. However, no signs of distress emanate from up-to-date initial unemployment insurance claims data, so the odds favor a stronger employment picture in 2014.

Between December 2012 and December 2013, Sevier County added approximately 50 new jobs. Mining, construction, retail trade, healthcare/social services and the public sector all participated in the employment upswing. Nevertheless, both professional/business services and leisure/hospitality services, with substantial employment losses, counterbalanced much of the new employment.

Sevier County’s unemployment rate shared in the general decline in joblessness statewide. Although jobs have contracted recently, new population figures from the U.S. Census Bureau indicate that a significant number of individuals have left the county’s borders. This out-migration has probably helped drive down the county’s level of unemployment. As of March 2014, Sevier County’s jobless rate measured 4.7 percent, down from 5.4 percent a year earlier.

Gross taxable sales turned in a cheerful 6.3 percent increase. The recent growth in sales also suggests the economy should continue to improve during 2014.