Jackson County Payroll Job Growth Hits the Brakes in the Second Quarter of 2019

by Guy Tauer

October 30, 2019

First, we’ll get some of the good news out of the way: average pay per job in Jackson County rose by 6 percent from the second quarter of 2018 to the second quarter of 2019. On an annual basis, the average wage per job reached $44,080 in the second quarter of 2019, up from $41,596 during the second quarter of 2018. With U.S. consumer prices rising 1.7 percent during that same period, this represents a real, or inflation adjusted, average pay per job increase of 4.3 percent in Jackson County. It doesn’t mean the average worker got a 6 percent raise; it could be a variety of factors including a shift in the mix of jobs, or more hours being worked affecting the average pay per job figures.
/The less good news comes from the job growth figures, which have seen a marked slowdown compared with the past few years as we were recovering from the Great Recession. The million dollar question is why we are seeing this sudden pull back in job growth. Is it due to the fact that the unemployment rate has been at such a historically low level for so long that the labor pool has been tapped of its most employable workers and most desirable job search candidates? Or have businesses rebuilt their workforces sufficiently to meet current and expected demand and this slowdown is just a pause in the longer-term job growth trend? Or is slow job growth an indicator that we are on the brink of the next recession after a historically long U.S. economic expansion? After all, before the last recession, job growth slowed before turning negative for five years during and after the recession. No crystal ball can foresee the future, but these recent trends are, at a minimum, mildly worrisome.

Industries Seeing Slower Growth and Job Losses – and a Few Bright Spots

The information industry has been in longer-term employment decline since the early 2000s in Jackson County. But since the second quarter of 2017 this sector has added about 100 jobs. During the most recent year ending in June 2019, the publishing industries component gained about 50 jobs, or a gain of 10.6 percent.

Crop Production: The sights and smells of the cannabis and increasingly the hemp industry abound in Jackson County. With more than 8,000 acres in hemp now planted and being harvested in the county, payroll employment in crop production has also risen from about 820 in the second quarter of 2018 to 880 in the second quarter of 2019, a 6.5 percent rise.

Construction: While overall construction employment is down over the year, the construction of buildings component added about 80 jobs for a 6.6 percent increase. Overall construction sector employment fell by about 3 percent over the year, losing about 140 jobs from the second quarter 2018 to the second quarter 2019. Specialty trade contractor employment shed 190 jobs while heavy and civil engineering construction lost 30 jobs during that period.

Private Educational Services: Jackson County has 86 private educational services businesses with payroll employment. Those entities added about 55 jobs over the year, up by 6.5 percent.

Health Care and Social Assistance: This perennial job growth sector continued to add jobs through the second quarter of 2019, up by 175 or a gain of 1.1 percent. The social assistance component rose by 65 jobs; ambulatory heath care services added 90 jobs; and nursing and residential care facilities employment grew by 75 jobs over the year ending in June.

Trade: Both Wholesale trade (-36) and retail trade (-45) lost a few jobs in Jackson County between the second quarter of 2018 and the second quarter of 2019.

Leisure and Hospitality: Employment is this sector regained its previous pre-recession peak back in 2014 and added jobs steadily through summer 2018. Between the second quarter last year and second quarter 2019, this sector lost a little more than 100 jobs. Food services and drinking places lost almost 130 jobs while accommodations employment was essentially flat. Art, entertainment, and recreation employment was up just 15 jobs.

Financial Activities: Overall financial activities employment was down by about 90 jobs or 2.7 percent. Within financial activities, employment in credit intermediation and related activities dropped by 75 over the year. Financial investment, and insurance carriers and related activity each lost about 20 jobs over the year.

Those are some highlights from the most recent release of second quarter 2019 data from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages. For more information, click here.

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