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Weekend edition December 16, 2022 | Shannon Smith

Latest ECO report shows improvement in manufacturing business, worsening in retail

Home sales are down, the prices of seemingly everything are up, and some business types need workers more than others.

When it comes to the ups and downs of running a business, the Knoxville area’s manufacturing is improving while the retail sector is struggling.

That’s according to a survey in the November edition of the “Economic Conditions Outlook” (ECO) report from the Knoxville Chamber, financed by First Horizon Bank.

Based on the response to the November survey, the level of general business activity and company outlooks are reported as “improved” in the manufacturing sector, “worsened” in the retail sector, and a split between “worsened” and “same as previous month” in the service industry.

Service sector comments indicate that some businesses are worried about a possible diesel fuel shortage. Others noted that while contractor business is increasing due to more building, the real estate market is slowing.

Unemployment is up slightly in Knoxville, Knox County, and Tennessee, but the report also shows an increase in active job postings and a slight decrease in the size of the labor force. The labor shortages are persisting longer than many economists expected. There continues to be high job demand and slower workforce growth resulting in fierce competition for talent and many open jobs going unfilled.

Here are more takeaways from the November ECO report:

  • The national inflation rate from October 2021 to October 2022 is 7.7 percent. This is down from the 8.2 percent rate from September 2021 to September 2022. Last year, the national inflation rate was 6.2 percent from October 2020 to October 2021.
  • From a year ago, gasoline prices are up 18 percent, groceries are up 12 percent, eating out prices are up 9 percent, and housing prices are up 6.9 percent.
  • Home sales in the Knoxville area declined 15.7 percent from September to October. Home sales in Knox County declined 14.8 percent from the previous month. Compared to the previous year, home sales were down 21.4 percent in the Knoxville area and 25.6 percent in Knox County.
  • The median home sales price in the Knoxville area was $315,000 in October — up 10.5 percent from one year ago. Knox County’s median home sale price was $331,815 – up 12.5 percent from one year ago.

For lots more data, view the full ECO report here.

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