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March issue of Knoxville Chamber’s ECO issued

By Kailyn Lamb, Marketing Content Writer and Editor, PYA

Some areas are showing improvement as reported in the March edition of the “Economic Conditions Outlook” (ECO) from the Knoxville Chamber.

Compiled each month by the Chamber, based on a survey of participating businesses, and financed by First Horizon Bank, the latest edition found manufacturers who responded saying the current outlook was “improved,” with answers on general business activity split between “the same” and “improved.” In retail, businesses answered that general activity is “the same,” while the six-month outlook is showing “increases” in the number of full-time employees, wages and benefits, input prices, selling prices, and inventories. Businesses in the service industry answered that general activity is “the same,” but answered mostly with “increases” in input prices and capital expenditures.

Labor market data for January came out last month. In the Knoxville metropolitan statistical area (MSA), the unemployment rate was 4.6 percent in January. This was a decrease from the December rate of 5.6 percent, but higher than the rate in January 2020, which was 3.5 percent. Both the state and national unemployment rates were also up slightly compared to last year. The labor force in the Knoxville MSA also decreased from December. The labor force in January was 431,693.

Other important trends identified were:

  • There were 35,101 unique active job listings in the Knoxville MSA in February. This is an increase from January and a 34.9 percent increase in listings from last year.
  • The March report included a summary of an analysis from the Brookings Institution on the pace of employment gains in 2021. The Brookings report estimated that the Gross Domestic Product will grow by six percent from the fourth quarter of 2020 to the fourth quarter of 2021. This will be fueled by the number of people getting vaccinations as well as the stimulus package from the American Rescue Plan. This increase will likely also mean an increase in employment over the next 10 months. However, some jobs may never return to the market as companies have learned to operate without them or used new technology to replace them, the Brookings report said. The full report can be found here.
  • Existing home sales went down from January to February, but remain up 14.5 percent compared to last year. The median home sales price in the Knoxville area was $246,575 in February. In Knox County, the median home sales price was $260,000. For the fifth consecutive month, housing inventory in the Knoxville area declined. Active listings are down 56 percent compared to 2020.
  • The Knoxville MSA collected $90.13 million in state sales tax in February, down 20.8 percent from January. Knox County collected $58.1 million in February, which was also down around 20 percent from January.
  • The number of business licenses issued in February by Knox County are down 8.5 percent compared to last February. A total of 225 licenses were issued.

The Knoxville Chamber added a new section to the ECO where businesses can send in announcements about expansions or a new facility in the Knoxville region. Send your business information to jriley@knoxvillechamber.com.

Businesses interested in registering can click here.

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