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Area's jobs outlook declines in quarter

February 27th, 2014 8:58 am by Nathan Baker

Area's jobs outlook declines in quarter

A fourth-quarter labor market report showed dismal employment figures for the Tri-Cities area to finish 2013.

Steb Hipple, an East Tennessee State University professor of economics and research associate for the Bureau of Business and Economics Research, said the local metro area posted the largest job losses from October to December since the tail-end of the Great Recession in 2009.

Compared to the same period in 2012, job levels were 2.6 percent lower, while unemployment rose .4 percent.

This now marks the third straight quarter with unemployment gains and the seventh straight with a decline in employment levels.

Johnson City showed the largest job losses among the Tri-Cities, down 3.8 percent, compared to Kingsport’s 2.9 percent and Bristol’s 1.1 percent.

Of the three, Kingsport had the lowest unemployment rate — 6.7 percent — with Johnson City at 7 percent and Bristol at 7.1.

Hipple, not mincing words when he called the official unemployment rate, which leaves out the millions of Americans who have stopped seeking employment, “the most worthless statistic currently being provided by the federal government,” said the regional economic outlook is quickly becoming more uncertain.

“The Tri-Cities economy has been looking to growth in the U.S. economy to improve regional business activity,” Hipple wrote. “This might be a long wait.”

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