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Asheville Metro Economic Report – 2020 Second Quarter

Highlights:

The four-county Asheville metro (Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson, and Madison counties) experienced a significant economic decline in the second quarter, owing to constraints implemented to limit the coronavirus pandemic’s impact. Overall, employment dropped by an average of 15.4 percent, with the metro’s unemployment rate reaching the highest level among all metros in the state.

  • In the second quarter of 2020, employment in the Asheville metro dropped by an average of 15.4 percent, with April reaching a low of -19.1 percent. The decline represents an average loss of 30,700 jobs from a year earlier.

  • Averaging 13.6 percent over the second quarter of 2020, Asheville’s unemployment rate reached a peak of 16.2 percent in April but fell to 8.9 percent in June.

  • Asheville’s average unemployment rate for the quarter is highest among the state’s fifteen metros.
  • Ten of eleven major industry sectors lost employment in the second quarter of 2020 when compared to one-year earlier; Leisure and Hospitality led with a net loss of 15,000 jobs followed by Health Services which dropped 5,000 jobs.

  • Buncombe County Lodging Sales totaled $30.9 million in the first quarter; $81.8 million or 72.6 percent below the second quarter of 2019.

  • Total Passenger Traffic at the Asheville Regional Airport equaled 57,133 in the second quarter of 2020; an 86.5 percent decline from a year earlier.

  • Taxable retail sales in the Asheville metro totaled $1,829,180,256 ($1.8 billion) in the second quarter; 11.2 percent less than one year earlier.

Detailed Analysis:
Employment

In the second quarter of 2020, employment in the Asheville metro dropped by an average of 15.4 percent, with April reaching a low of -19.1 percent (Figure 1). The decline represents an average loss of 30,700 jobs from a year earlier. Asheville’s second quarter rate is below the national average rate of -11.3 percent and the statewide rate of -10.3 percent.

Figure 1
Total Employment
Monthly Year-to-Year
Percent Change

Figure 1 Total Employment Monthly Year to Year Percent Change Asheville Metro Economic Report 2020 Q2
Source: NC Division of Employment Security

 

Asheville’s percentage rate of employment decline over the second quarter is the greatest among the state’s fifteen metros (Figure 2).  All of the state’s metros lost employment over the quarter, with nine exceeding the national rate of decline.


Figure 2

 2020 2Q Average
North Carolina Metros
Employment One-Year Percent Change

Figure 2 2020 2Q Average NC Metros Employment One-Year Percent Change

Source: NC Division of Employment Security


Averaging 13.6 percent over the second quarter of 2020, Asheville’s unemployment rate reached a peak of 16.2 percent in April but fell to 8.9 percent in June (Figure 3). The unemployment rate translates into roughly 30,000 Asheville metro residents unable to find employment.

Asheville’s average unemployment rate for the quarter is highest among the state’s fifteen metros (Figure 4).

Figure 3
Unemployment Rates (%)

Figure 3 Unemployment Rates (%) 2020 2Q _ Asheville Metro Economic Report 2020 Q2
Source: NC Division of Employment Security



Figure 4

Unemployment Rate (%)
2020 2Q Average

Figure 4 Unemployment Rate 2020 2Q Average _ Asheville Metro Economic Report 2020 Q2
Source: NC Division of Employment Security


Ten of eleven major industry sectors lost employment in the second quarter of 2020 when compared to one-year earlier; Leisure and Hospitality led with a net loss of 15,000 jobs followed by Health Services which dropped 5,000 jobs (Figure 5). Only the Financial Services sector remained unchanged.

Figure 5
Asheville Metro – 2020 2Q
Major Industry Employment
One-Year Change

Figure 5 Asheville Metro 2020 2Q Major Industry Employment One-Year Change _ JPS Asheville Metro Economic Report 2020 2Q
Totals rounded to nearest 100
Source: NC Division of Employment Security


Wages

Private industry average hourly wages in the Asheville metro equaled $23.50 in the second quarter, a 4.4 percent gain from a year earlier (Figure 6). The increase marks the fourth consecutive quarter with positive year-over-year gains.

Asheville’s first quarter hourly wages place it eighth among all fifteen metros in the state: remaining below the statewide and national averages (Figure 7). This marks a slip from the seventh spot, which the metro held over the previous four quarters.


Figure 6

Asheville Metro
Average Hourly Wages
Private Industry

Figure 6 Asheville Metro Average Hourly Earnings Private Industry 2020 2Q _ JPS Asheville Metro Economic Report 2020 Q2
Source: NC Division of Employment Security



Figure 7

North Carolina Metros – 2020 2Q
Average Hourly Earnings
Private Industry

Figure 7 NC Metros 2020 2Q Averge Hourly Earnings Private Industry _ JPS Asheville Metro Economic Report 2020 Q2
Source: NC Division of Employment Security


Leisure & Hospitality

Buncombe County Lodging Sales totaled $30.9 million in the first quarter; $81.8 million or 72.6 percent below the second quarter of 2019 (Figure 8 and Figure 9). This marks the largest quarterly decline in at least the last fifteen years.

Figure 8
Buncombe County
Lodging Sales

Figure 8 Buncombe County Lodging Sales _ JPS Asheville Metro Economic Report 2020 2Q
Source: Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority



Figure 9

Buncombe County
Lodging Sales
Quarterly Year-Year Change (%)

Figure 9 Buncombe County Lodging Sales Quarterly Year to Year Change Percentage _ JPS Asheville Metro Economic Report 2020 Q2
Source: Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority


Hotel Occupancy
in Buncombe County averaged 26.9 percent in the second quarter of 2020 (Figure 10). Second quarter occupancy has averaged 73.9 percent over the last decade. The previous 10-year low occupancy rate was 42.1 percent in the first quarter of 2010.


Figure 10

Buncombe County
Hotel Occupancy

Figure 10 Buncombe County Hotel Occupancy _ Asheville Metro Economic Report _ JPS Asheville Metro Economic Report 2020 Q2
Source: Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority


Total Passenger Traffic at the Asheville Regional Airport equaled 57,133 in the second quarter of 2020; an 86.5 percent decline from a year earlier (Figure 11 and Figure 12). Second quarter total passenger traffic has averaged 230,775 over the last decade.


Figure 11

Asheville Regional Airport
Total Passengers

Figure 11 Asheville Regional Airport Total Passengers _ JPS Asheville Metro Economic Report 2020 Q2
Source: Asheville Regional Airport


Figure 12

Asheville Regional Airport
Total Passengers
Quarterly Year-to-Year Change (%)

Figure 12 Asheville Regional Airport Total Passengers _ Quarterly Year to Year Change Percentage _ JPS Asheville Metro Report 2020 Q2
Source: Asheville Regional Airport




Housing

In the second quarter 2,003 home sales closed in the Asheville metro with an average sales price of $344,654 and a median sales price of $299,833 (Figure 13). The number of closed home sales is 7.5 percent below the number closed one-year earlier, while over the same period the average sales price gained 2.7 percent, and the median price increased by 5.7 percent (Figure 14). The second quarter saw 2,495 new home listings, a 25.5 percent decline from the second quarter of 2019.


Figure 13

Asheville Metro
Home Sales

Figure 13 Asheville Metro Home Sales _ JPS Asheville Metro Economic Report 2020 Q2
Source: NCMMLS, provided by Charlotte Regional REALTOR® Association


Figure 14

Asheville Metro
Home Sales Trends
Quarterly Year-to-Year Change (%)


Figure 14 Asheville Metro Home Sales Trends Quarterly Year to Year Percentage _ JPS Asheville Metro Economic Report 2020 Q2
Source: NCMMLS, provided by Charlotte Regional REALTOR® Association


At 3.7 percent, Asheville metro’s Same-Home Annual Appreciation Rate in the second quarter ranks fourteenth among all the state’s fifteen metros; the rate is slightly below the national average of 4.0 percent and statewide pace of 4.7 percent (Figure 15). This marks 29 consecutive quarters of positive Same-Home Appreciation Rates in Asheville.


Figure 15

North Carolina Metros
Same-Home Annual Appreciation Rate (%)
2020 2Q

Figure 15 NC Metros Same Home Annual Appreciation Rate Percentage 2020 2Q _ JPS Asheville Metro Economic Report 2020 Q2

Source: Federal Housing Finance Agency

Estimated permit activity for new residential building totaled 467 units in the second quarter with a value of $161 million (Figure 16). In percentage terms, the total number of units permitted is down 3.4 percent from one year earlier, while the total value is up slightly by 0.2 percent. Permitted multi-family units totaled 158, accounting for 25 percent of the total. 


Figure 16

Asheville Metro
Estimated Residential Building Permits Activity*


Figure 17 Asheville Metro Total Taxable Retail Sales _ JPS Asheville Metro Economic Report 2020 Q2
*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 the Asheville metro totaled $1,829,180,256 ($1.8 billion) in the second quarter; 11.2 percent less than one year earlier (Figure 17 and Figure 18). Despite the significant decline, the average second quarter retail sales in the metro is $1.6 billion over the decade.


Figure 17

Asheville Metro
Total Taxable Retail Sales


Figure 17 Asheville Metro Total Taxable Retail Sales _ JPS Asheville Metro Economic Report 2020 Q2
Includes collections of penalties, interest, and sales & use tax; and may reflect activity from prior periods.
Source: NC Department of Revenue


Figure 18
Asheville Metro
Quarterly Year-to-Year Change (%)

Figure 18 Asheville Metro Quarterly Year to Year Change Percentage _ JPS Asheville Metro Economic Report 2020 Q2
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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