Cleveland employment grew 5.6 percent compared to 1.4 percent statewide, according to a staff report issued in May by TACIR, a state agency that serves as a forum for discussion and resolution of problems among various levels of local and state government.
The statistic was contained in the staff report “The Recession and Employment in the U.S. and Tennessee: A Long Road Back to Normal?”
The 13-page report summarizes employment conditions from the onset of the depression in December 2009 through March. The growth was measured from March 2012 to this past March.
Job growth in the Cleveland MSA, which includes Bradley and Polk counties, lost about 100 jobs in the wholesale and retail sector and in the other services sectors. Employers added 2,300 jobs overall, mostly in the professional and business services sector.
TACIR Vice Chairman, Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland said the report confirms what everyone locally already knows — Southeast Tennessee is the hot spot for job creation in Tennessee and the Cleveland MSA is a national hotspot.
“Cleveland was ranked fourth in the nation for job creation in 2012 among all statistical areas,” he said. “Our first priority is to create an environment that allows existing industry to flourish and new industries to put down roots.”
During the same period, the Jackson area lost 200 jobs in transportation and utilities, but gained ground in every other sector, matching the Knoxville area’s overall growth rate of 1.8 percent increase of 1,100 jobs, which equates to 6,000 new jobs because of its much larger size.
In actual numbers, employment in the Cleveland MSA showed 41,400 jobs in March 2012 to 43,700 this past March.
Southeast Tennessee Development District Chairman, Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis said, “In spite of the troubling economy, Bradley County is in an enviable position. As the TACIR report points out our job growth of 5.6 percent is four times the state average of 1.4 percent.
“I believe this is due to our hard work in retaining existing industry such as Whirlpool, Olin and others, while growing new industrial jobs with companies like Wacker and Amazon. This is the key to keeping our citizens employed, which, as the report shows, has stimulated the growth of local business,” Davis said.
According to the TACIR report, job recovery in four of the state’s 10 MSAs: Chattanooga, Clarksville, Kingsport-Bristol, and Memphis has been slower than statewide. Morristown and Johnson City have continued to decline.
The Morristown area lost 100 jobs or more in five of 12 employment sectors, including a loss of 300 jobs in leisure and hospitality. Morriston gained ground only in the wholesale trade, professional and business services, and government sectors.
Johnson City lost 100 jobs or more in six sectors, including 300 in the education and health services sector and 500 in the government sector.
Education and health were the least impacted statewide by the recession.
The Johnson City area gained jobs in only two sectors: retail trade and other services with 100 jobs each.
Total job growth in the 57 non-MSA counties exceeded job growth in all but the three largest MSAs of Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville, and was greater than the sum of all job growth in the five MSAs with the least growth.
The big job-growth sectors outside the MSAs were retail trade with 3,700 new jobs, leisure and hospitality with 2,500 new jobs, financial activities with 2,200 new jobs, and manufacturing with 2,000 jobs. Another 800 jobs were added outside the MSAs in the mining, logging and construction sectors, according to the report.
The downside was led by a loss of 4,500 state and local government jobs and 1,400 jobs in the education and health services sectors. The information sector also lost 600 jobs, and the professional and business services sector lost 500.
The strength of the recovery varies considerably across the state as well as by sector.
Mining, logging and construction were hardest hit by the recession. Data shows recovery in that sector, except in three of the four big regions of Nashville, Knoxville, and Chattanooga. Memphis is the only one of the four with growth in that sector. Clarksville and Kingsport have also declined.
A similar story emerges for the financial sector in Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga, Kingsport-Bristol and Johnson City. Chattanooga’s recovery over the last 12 months was a bit weaker and concentrated mainly in three sectors: professional and business services, wholesale trade, and leisure and hospitality.
The area netted only 700 jobs for an overall growth rate of .3 percent, the report stated.
The construction industry felt the full brunt of the 2007 downturn both nationally and in Tennessee. Most sectors have not reached their pre-recession peaks, though the education and health services sector was relatively unaffected.
Employment in several sectors: manufacturing, information, retail trade, wholesale trade, transportation and utilities, and leisure and hospitality was hit worse in Tennessee than nationally.
Tennessee employment suffered less when it came to construction, financial activities, government, professional and business services, and other services sectors.
Employment in both the professional and business services sector and the so-called other services sector, a catchall category for services that do not fit neatly into established sectors, has fully or almost fully recovered to pre-recession peaks nationally and in Tennessee.
According to TACIR, while national real gross domestic product regained its pre-recession peak in the fourth quarter of 2011, total nonfarm employment for the last quarter of 2012 was still 3.5 million less than its previous peak almost five years earlier. Real GDP bottomed out in the second quarter of 2009 as employment continued to decline until the end of 2009 and has yet to regain its previous peak.
Estimates by the University of Tennessee’s Center for Business and Economic Research show total employment in both the U.S. and Tennessee regaining or exceeding their previous peaks by 2015. However, the expectation for recovery in some sectors in Tennessee remains dismal. The retail trade, wholesale trade, financial activities and information sectors are not expected to return to their peak employment levels until after 2022. Manufacturing may never return to its peak.