Latest ECO report shows more retirements expected soon

By Shannon Smith, Teknovation Assistant Editor, PYA

A new survey question shows half of responding Knoxville businesses expect an increase in retirements in the next five years, according to the October edition of the “Economic Conditions Outlook” (ECO) report from the Knoxville Chamber.

The report, financed by First Horizon Bank, showed 54 percent of survey respondents indicated that they did anticipate an influx in employee retirements over the next five years. Twenty-nine percent indicated that it would impact about 15 percent of their workforce. Another 29 percent did not answer or did not know. Fourteen percent each said retirements would impact 5 percent, 6 percent, and as much as 90 percent of their workforce.

The October ECO report also showed a decline in unemployment locally and nationally, with fewer local job postings than in August 2022.

Despite those numbers, there continues to be high job demand and slower workforce growth nationally, resulting in fierce competition for talent and many open jobs going unfilled. According to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the nation had 10.7 million jobs to fill in September and only 6.1 million hires, meaning there are approximately two job openings for every unemployed person.

That worker shortage is in many ways due to worker burnout. The ECO report said recent labor strikes, walkouts, and other labor activities appear to be related to worker burnout in some of the industry sectors that have the most pronounced staffing shortages. These tend to be the industries that remained open through much of the pandemic and had many workers who decided to either quit, change careers, or retire, leaving the remaining employees with a much heavier and more stressful workload. Healthcare, retail, hospitality, education, and even railroads are among the industries that have recently experienced backlash from exhausted workers

Here are more takeaways from the October ECO report:

  • The national inflation rate from September 2021 to September 2022 is 8.2 percent. This is down from the 8.3 percent rate from August 2021 to August 2022. Last year, the national inflation rate was 5.4 percent from September 2020 to September 2021.
  • Home sales in the Knoxville area increased 3.3 percent from August to September to a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 21,937. Similarly, home sales in Knox County increase 0.3 percent from the previous month to a SAAR of 8,226.
  • Compared to the previous year, home sales in the Knoxville area were down 9.5 percent, and 15.4 percent in Knox County.
  • The Knoxville MSA region collected $118.847 million in state sales taxes in September (up 0.1 percent from August and up 11.3 percent from last September) and Knox County collected $77.619 million in September (up 1.9 percent from August and up 12.5 percent from last September).
  • A total of 239 new business licenses were issued in September 2022 compared to 259 in September 2021 and 236 in September 2019.

Find even more data by reading the full report here.

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