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How Strong & Stable Is The Asheville Metro Economy?

The four-county Asheville metro (Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson and Madison counties) is currently experiencing a multi-year employment expansion. Beginning in August 2010, the metro has added employment in every month, as compared to the same month in the prior year, through May 2019 (see chart below). The expansion has added 37,300 net new jobs to a current employment total of 204,200.

Asheville Metro
Monthly Employment Growth Rate (%)
January 1991 to May 2019

Asheville Metro MonthlyEmployment Growth Rate_Percentage_January 1991 to May 2019_JPS_

Monthly year-over-year percent change. Recessions in gray.
Source: NC Department of Commerce

How unique is the Asheville metro’s current expansion? Compared to the other fourteen metro areas in the state, the Asheville metro has the third longest unbroken expansion; 105 consecutive months, nearly nine years. The current streak ties with the nation and is one month longer than the statewide trend (see chart below). Interestingly, the Asheville metro experienced a similar expansion earlier, lasting 108 consecutive months, from April 1991 to March 2000.

North Carolina Metros
Current Number of Consecutive Months of Employment Growth
As of May 2019North Carolina Metros Current Number of Consecutive Months of Employment Growth As Of May 2019_ JPS_

Monthly year-over-year change.
Source: NC Department of Commerce

Historically, what about job losses? The nation has experienced three recessions since 1990, with each leading to multiple months of consecutive job losses. The longest period of job losses experienced in the Asheville metro lasted 23 months; June 2008 to April 2010. Compared to the other fourteen metros in the state, the Asheville metro has had the fourth shortest period of job losses; six months shorter than the nation and eleven months shorter than the state (see chart below).

 North Carolina Metros
Longest Period of Consecutive Monthly Job Losses
January 1991 to May 2019

North Carolina Metros Longest Period of Consecutive Monthly Job Losses_ January 1991 to May 2019_ JPS_Monthly year-over-year change.
Source: NC Department of Commerce

Examining the entire period from January 1991 to May 2019, the Asheville metro has added employment (compared to the same month in the prior year) in 294 of 341months; 86.2 percent of all months. Compared to the other fourteen metros in the state, the Asheville metro has the second highest percent of job-adding months (see chart below).

North Carolina Metros
Percent of Months Adding Employment
January 1991 to May 2019

North Carolina Metros Percent of Months Adding Employment _ January 1991 to May 2019_ JPS

Monthly year-over-year change.
Source: NC Department of Commerce

Finally, what is the average monthly employment growth rate in the Asheville metro? Again, examining the period from January 1991 to May 2019, the Asheville metro has grown at an average pace of 1.5 percent; placing sixth among the state’s fifteen metros and slightly faster than the state and nation (see chart below).

 North Carolina Metros
Average Monthly Rate of Employment Change
January 1991 to May 2019

North Carolina Metros Average Monthly Rate of Employment Change_ January 1991 to May 2019_ JPS

Monthly year-over-year change.
Source: NC Department of Commerce

So how strong & stable is the Asheville metro economy? A brief comparison of employment change among other North Carolina metros, the state and nation reveal that the Asheville metro is presently experiencing one of the longest periods of unbroken job growth. Historically, the metro has experienced relatively short durations of job losses and has added employment in the vast majority of months; the second highest rate in the state. And finally, indicating more of a steady than speedy pace, the Asheville metro has averaged an employment growth rate of 1.5 percent; sixth among metros in the state and slightly above the statewide and national rates.   

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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, business 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. We also invest time and energy in our community, taking pride in doing what we can to make Western North Carolina a better place.  JPS Mission: To Be Greater by positively impacting our Clients, People, Community and Profession.