Tuesday, August 2, 2016
Sevier County Economic Update
After a strong end-of-year performance, Sevier County’s economy stepped back a notch in the first few months of 2016. The county continued to create new employment, but the rate of employment proved notably slower than just a quarter earlier. Nevertheless, the area hasn’t experienced employment contraction since 2013. As job growth waned, unemployment edged up. Although joblessness has risen slightly, it remains relatively low and first-time claims for unemployment insurance are running at a seasonal level. Following employment’s lead, gross taxable sales expanded but at a rather tepid rate. In general, the economy is improving, but at a lukewarm rather than scorching speed.
Nonfarm jobs in Sevier County grew by 1.2 percent between the March 2015 and March 2016, reflecting the addition of about 100 jobs.
Healthcare/social services made the largest employment contribution followed by construction and government.
While several industries contracted, the only job loss of note occurred in the tourism-driven leisure/hospitality services industry.
Sevier County’s unemployment rate has increased 0.6 percentage points since the beginning of the year.
Joblessness measured 4.8 percent in June 2016, below the statewide average and roughly equal to the national figure.
In the first half of 2016, first-time claims for unemployment insurance followed a traditional seasonal pattern with no signs of unusual stress.
So far this year, construction, retail trade and private education/healthcare/social services have generated the most claims activity.
Despite decelerating job growth, Sevier County’s average monthly nonfarm wage continues to trend upward.
Between the first quarters of 2015 and 2016, the average wage increased by more than 3 percent.
Current construction data is not available for Sevier County.
Gross taxable sales increased by a lackluster 1.4 percent between the first quarters of 2015 and 2016.
General merchandise stores showed the strongest sales improvement. In addition, business investment expenditures rose nicely.
On the downside, wholesale trade sales dipped noticeably.