Thursday, July 30, 2015

Sevier County Economic Update

Although not all of Sevier County’s economic indicators point in the same direction, the most important gauge of economic health, the year-to-year change in nonfarm jobs, suggests the county has returned to business expansion. In fact, first quarter figures marked the strongest job growth since the beginning of the recession. Although the county’s unemployment rate has changed little in the past several months, it measures at a relatively low rate and new claims for unemployment insurance are down. On the other hand, construction permitting appears slower since 2015 began and first quarter sales increased only slightly.

  • Sevier County added almost 250 net, new jobs between March 2014 and March 2015 for a healthy growth rate of 3 percent.
  • Most industries joined in the job creation phenomenon with leisure/hospitality services and retail trade leading the pack.
  • Supplemental positions were added in mining, manufacturing and professional/business services making this a relatively broad-based expansion.
  • While several industries lost jobs, the declines proved minimal. In June 2015, Sevier County’s unemployment rate measured 4.2 percent.
  • While jobless rates have plateaued in recent months, the rate has dropped 0.3 percent points since last year and is still low from an historical perspective.
  • In the first half of the summer, first-time claims for unemployment insurance trended lower than in the two previous years.
  • Sevier County’s average monthly wage continues to increase in a very unhurried fashion.
  • In the four quarters ending March 2015, Sevier County’s average monthly nonfarm wage measured slightly higher than $2,600.
  • Construction activity can vacillate wildly as proved by Sevier County’s year-to-date permitting values.
  • A large service station permit drove nonresidential permits up dramatically when the first five months of 2014 and 2015 are compared.
  • Residential permitting continued to slow.
  • Between the first quarters of 2014 and 2015, Sevier County’s gross taxable sales increased by a mere 0.2 percent.
  • A decline in the business investment category can take responsibility for much of this lethargic performance. Retail sales actually increased nicely.