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Asheville Metro Economic Report 2019 – Second Quarter

Johnson Price Sprinkle PA is pleased to produce Asheville Metro Economic Report – 2019 Second Quarter. JPS is a sixty+ year-old accounting firm with offices in Asheville, Boone & Marion, NC. JPS serves Western North Carolina with dedicated CPAs providing small-to-middle-market businesses with tax, consulting, audit, and technology services.

Highlights:

The four-county Asheville metro (Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson and Madison counties) continues a path of strong, unbroken growth. Positive monthly year-to-year job growth has continued uninterrupted for nearly nine years. The metro grew at the fastest pace among all metros in the state. Asheville persists as holding the lowest unemployment rate in the state, as it has for the last fifty-two consecutive months.  

  • In the second quarter of 2019 Asheville added an average of 6,900 net new jobs from a year earlier, earning an average growth rate of 3.5 percent. This is the highest growth rate since 2016.

  • Positive monthly year-to-year job growth has continued uninterrupted for one-hundred and seven straight months; nearly nine years.

  • Asheville’s employment growth rate over the second quarter firmly place it as the fastest growing metro in the state, outpacing the second fastest growing metro, Charlotte, by a full percentage point.

  • Asheville’s average unemployment rate for the quarter continues as the lowest among all the state’s fifteen metros. The metro has held the lowest unemployment rate in the state for the last fifty-two consecutive months; slightly more than four years.

  • Buncombe County Lodging Sales reached $112.7 million in the second quarter; $7.5 million or 7.2 percent above the second quarter of 2018. Lodging Sales have experienced positive quarterly year-over-year growth for nine and one-half straight years.

  • Total Passenger Traffic at the Asheville Regional Airport equaled 421,988 in the second quarter of 2019; up 45.6 percent from a year earlier and breaking an all-time quarter record. This marks the eleventh consecutive quarter with double-digit passenger increases.

  • Taxable retail sales in Asheville totaled $2,060,165,335 ($2.0 billion) in the second quarter; setting a new all-time second quarter record. Sales were up 4.7 percent from the second quarter of 2018. Retail sales have increased, year-over-year, over the last 22 consecutive quarters.

Detailed Analysis:

Employment

In the second quarter of 2019 Asheville added an average of 6,900 net new jobs from a year earlier, earning an average growth rate of 3.5 percent (Figure 1). This is the highest growth rate since 2016. Positive monthly year-to-year job growth has continued uninterrupted for one-hundred and seven straight months; nearly nine years. Employment averaged 203,300 over the quarter. Asheville’s second quarter growth rate easily outpaced the national rate of 1.6 percent and the statewide rate of 1.4 percent.

Figure 1
Total Employment Montly Year-Year
Percent Change
Figure 1 Total Employment Monthy Year-Year Percent Change JPS_2019 2Q Asheville MetroSource: NC Division of Employment Security

Asheville’s employment growth rate over the second quarter firmly placed it as the fastest growing metro in the state, outpacing the second fastest growing metro, Charlotte, by a full percentage point (Figure 2).  Four of North Carolina’s metros lost employment over the quarter; Greenville, Jacksonville, Rocky Mount and Goldsboro.

Figure 2
2019 2Q Average
North Carolina Metros
Employment One-Year Percent Change
Figure 2 2019 2Q Average NC Metros Employment One-Year Pecent Change JPSSource: NC Division of Employment Security

Averaging 3.2 percent over the second quarter of 2019, Asheville’s unemployment rate continues to hold below both the nation and state; averaging 3.5 and 4.0 percent respectively (Figure 3). The unemployment rate translates into roughly 8,500 Asheville residents unable to find employment.

Asheville’s average unemployment rate for the quarter continues as the lowest among all the state’s fifteen metros (Figure 4). The metro has held the lowest unemployment rate in the state for the last fifty-two consecutive months; slightly more than four years. Across North Carolina, only Asheville had unemployment rates lower than the national average.

Figure 3
Unemployment Rates (%)
Figure 3 Unemployment Rates_JPS_2019 2Q Asheville Metro Economic ReportSource: NC Division of Employment Security
 
Figure 4
Unemployment Rate (%)
2019 2Q Average
Figure 4 Unemployment Rates 2019 2Q Average_JPS_2019 2Q Asheville Metro Economic ReportSource: NC Division of Employment Security

Nine of eleven major industry sectors gained employment in the second quarter of 2019 when compared to one-year earlier; Health Services led with a net gain of 2,400 jobs followed by Manufacturing and Construction (Figure 5). This represents the strongest growth in Asheville’s Health Services sector on record.

Figure 5
Asheville Metro – 2019 2Q
Major Industry Employment
One-Year Change
Figure 5 Asheville Metro - 2019 2Q Major Industry Employment One-Year Change_JPS_2019 2Q Asheville Metro Economic ReportTotals rounded to nearest 100
Source: NC Division of Employment Security
 

Earnings

Private industry average hourly earnings in Asheville equaled $22.52 in the second quarter, no change from a year earlier (Figure 6).

Asheville’s second quarter hourly earnings place it eighth among all fifteen metros in the state; remaining below the statewide and national averages (Figure 7). Only two of the state’s metros held average hourly earnings above the national average; Charlotte and Durham-Chapel Hill.

Figure 6
Asheville Metro
Average Hourly Earnings
Private Industry
Figure 6 Asheville Metro Average Hourly Earnings Private Industry_JPS_2019 2Q Asheville Metro Economic ReportSource: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Figure 7
North Carolina Metros – 2019 2Q
Average Hourly Earnings
Private Industry
Figure 7 NC Metros - 2019 2Q Average Hourly Earnings Private Industry_JPS_2019 2Q Asheville Metro Economic ReportSource: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Leisure & Hospitality

Buncombe County Lodging Sales reached $112.7 million in the second quarter; $7.5 million or 7.2 percent above the second quarter of 2018 (Figure 8). Lodging Sales have experienced positive quarterly year-over-year growth for nine and one-half straight years.

Figure 8
Buncombe County
Lodging SalesFigure 8 Buncombe County Lodging Sales_JPS_2019 2Q Asheville Metro Economic Report
Source: Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority

Average Hotel Room Rates in Buncombe County rose by a tepid 0.8 percent from one year earlier (Figure 9). The room rate averaged $156 over the second quarter.

Figure 9
Buncombe County
Average Hotel Room Rate
Figure 9 Buncombe County Average Hotel Room Rate_JPS_2019 2Q Asheville Metro Economic ReportSource: Smith Travel Research, Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority

Total Passenger Traffic at the Asheville Regional Airport equaled 421,988 in the second quarter of 2019; up 45.6 percent from a year earlier and breaking an all-time quarter record (Figure 10). This marks the eleventh consecutive quarter with double-digit passenger increases.

Figure 10
Asheville Regional Airport
Total Passengers
Figure 10 Asheville Regional Airport Total Passengers_JPS_2019 2Q Asheville Metro Economic ReportSource: Asheville Regional Airport

Housing

In the second quarter 2,016 home sales were closed in the Asheville metro with an average sales price of $336,322 and a median sales price of $283,917 (Figure 11). The number of closed homes sales is 0.5 percent above the number sold one-year earlier, while over the same period the average sales price gained 6.3 percent and the median price increased by 5.5 percent (Figure 12). The second quarter saw 3,349 new home listings, a 7.7 percent increase from the second quarter of 2018.

Figure 11
Asheville Metro
Home SalesFigure 11 Asheville Metro Home Sales_JPS_2019 2Q Asheville Metro Economic Report
Source: NCMMLS, provided by Charlotte Regional REALTOR® Association
Figure 12
Asheville Metro
Home Sales Trends
Quarterly Year-Year Change (%)Figure 12 Asheville Metro Home Sales Trends Quarterly Year-Year Change_JPS_2019 2Q Asheville Metro Economic Report
Source: NCMMLS, provided by Charlotte Regional REALTOR® Association

At 6.3 percent, Asheville’s Same-Home Annual Appreciation Rate in the second quarter ranks fifth among all the state’s metros; the rate is above the statewide pace of 5.8 percent and national average of 5.0 percent (Figure 13). This marks six and one-quarter consecutive years of positive Same-Home Appreciation Rates in Asheville. Among the 241 metros ranked by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Asheville places 68th for it’s Same-Home Annual Appreciation Rate.

Figure 13
North Carolina Metros
Same-Home Annual Appreciation Rate (%)
2019 2Q
Figure 13 NC Metros Same-Home Annual Appreciation Rate_JPS_2019 2Q Asheville Metro Economic ReportSource: Federal Housing Finance Agency

Estimated permit activity for new residential building totaled 647 units in the second quarter with a value of $160.3 million (Figure 14). In percentage terms, the total number of units permitted is down 20.5 percent from one year earlier, while the total value is down 3.2 percent. Multi-family accounted for 143 units or 22 percent of all residential units issued in the quarter.

Figure 14
Asheville Metro
Estimated Residential Building Permits Activity*Figure 14 Asheville Metro Estimated Residential Building Permits Activity_JPS_2019 2Q Asheville Metro Economic Report
*Based on a survey of permitting agencies. The Census Bureau provides estimates for any missing agency data, which typically amounts to less than 20% of the total permits.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Retail Sales

Taxable retail sales in Asheville totaled $2,060,165,335 ($2.0 billion) in the second quarter; setting a new all-time second quarter record (Figure 15). Sales were up 4.7 percent from the second quarter of 2018. Retail sales have increased, year-over-year, over the last 22 consecutive quarters.

Figure 15
Asheville Metro
Taxable Retail SalesFigure 15 Asheville Metro Taxable Retail Sales_JPS_2019 2Q Asheville Metro Economic Report
Includes collections of penalties, interest, and sales & use tax; and may reflect activity from prior periods.
Source: NC Department of Revenue

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About JPS:
Johnson Price Sprinkle PA is a 60+ year old accounting firm providing small to middle market businesses with tax, consulting, audit, and technology solution services. With offices in Asheville, Boone, and Marion, NC, our CPAs and JPS team strive to provide personal service alongside technical expertise resulting in our clients’ long-term financial success. >Be Greater