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JPS Asheville Metro Economic Report – 2018 Third Quarter

Highlights:

The third quarter saw the four-county Asheville metro (Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson and Madison counties) continue a path of unbroken growth. Positive monthly year-to-year job growth has continued uninterrupted for slightly more than eight straight years. The metro holds the lowest unemployment rate in the state for the last forty-three consecutive months. New all-time records were set in Buncombe County Lodging Sales, Total Passenger Traffic at the Asheville Regional Airport and Taxable Retail Sales.  

•   In the third quarter,  Asheville metro added an average of 3,300 net new jobs from a year earlier, earning an average growth rate of 1.8 percent. Positive monthly year-to-year job growth has continued uninterrupted for ninety-eight straight months; slightly more than eight straight years.

•   Averaging 3.0 percent over the third quarter, Asheville metro’s unemployment rate continues to hold well below both the nation and state; averaging 3.9 and 3.7 percent respectively.

•   Asheville metro’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 forty-three consecutive months; three and one-half years.

•   Private industry average hourly earnings in Asheville metro equaled $22.91 in the third quarter, a gain of 2.2 percent from a year earlier. The percentage gain was the largest since the first quarter of 2017.

•   Buncombe County Lodging Sales set a new all-time quarterly record, totaling $121 million in the third quarter; $10.9 million or 10 percent above the third quarter of 2017.

•   Total Passenger Traffic at the Asheville Regional Airport equaled 308,327 in the third quarter of 2018; up 11.4 percent from a year earlier and setting a new all-time quarterly record. The previous record was set in the second quarter of 2018. This marks the eighth consecutive quarter with double-digit passenger increases.

•  Taxable Retail Sales in Asheville metro totaled $2,070,654,113 ($2.0 billion) in the third quarter; crossing the two billion mark for the first time ever and setting a new all-time quarterly record. Sales were up 8.7 percent from the third quarter of 2017.

Detailed Analysis:

Employment

In the third quarter of 2018, Asheville metro added an average of 3,300 net new jobs from a year earlier, earning an average growth rate of 1.8 percent (Figure 1). Positive monthly year-to-year job growth has continued uninterrupted for ninety-eight straight months; slightly more than eight straight years. Employment averaged 193,400 over the quarter. Asheville metro’s third quarter growth rate narrowly outpaced the national rate of 1.7 percent but fell below the statewide rate of 2.2 percent.

Figure 1
Total Employment
Monthly Year-Year
Percent Change

Figure 1 Total Employment Monthly Year-Year Percent Change 2018 3Q _ JPS

Source: NC Division of Employment Security

Asheville metro’s employment growth rate over the third quarter of 2018 places it fifth among the state’s 15 metros (Figure 2). Three of North Carolina’s metros lost employment over the quarter; Rocky Mount, Goldsboro and Wilmington. While five North Carolina metros grew faster than the national average growth rate of 1.7 percent; Raleigh, Charlotte, Durham-Chapel Hill, Hickory and Asheville.

Figure 2
2018 3Q Average
North Carolina Metros Employment
One-Year Percent Change

Figure 15 Asheville Metro Taxable Retail Sales _ JPS Asheville Metro Economic Report 2018 3Q

Source: NC Division of Employment Security

Averaging 3.0 percent over the third quarter of 2018, Asheville metro’s unemployment rate continues to hold well below both the nation and state; averaging 3.9 and 3.7 percent respectively (Figure 3). The unemployment rate translates into roughly 6,870 Asheville metro residents unable to find employment.

Asheville metro’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 forty-three consecutive months; three and one-half years. Six of the state’s metros have third quarter unemployment rates exceeding the national average.

Figure 3
Unemployment Rates (%)

Figure 2 2018 3Q Average NC Metros Employment One-Year Percent Change _ JPS

Source: NC Division of Employment Security

Figure 4
Unemployment Rate (%)
2018 3Q Average

Figure 4 Unemployment Rate % 2018 3Q Average _ JPS Asheville Metro Economic Report 2018 3Q

Source: NC Division of Employment Security

Two major industry sectors led growth in the third quarter of 2018 when compared to one-year earlier; Leisure & Hospitality and Manufacturing, together accounting for two-thirds of all net new jobs (Figure 5). Although minor, Professional & Business Services was the only industry to experience net job losses.

Figure 5
Asheville Metro – 2018 3Q
Major Industry Employment
One-Year Change

Figure 5 Asheville Metro 2018 3Q Major Industry Employment One-Year Change _ JPS Asheville Metro Economic Report 2018 3Q

Totals rounded to nearest 100
Source: NC Division of Employment Security

Earnings

Private industry average hourly earnings in Asheville metro equaled $22.91 in the third quarter, a gain of 2.2 percent from a year earlier (Figure 6). The percentage gain was the largest since the first quarter of 2017.

Asheville metro’s third quarter hourly earnings place it eight among all fifteen metros in the state; remaining below the statewide and national averages (Figure 7). Three of the state’s metros held average hourly earnings above both the national and state averages; Charlotte, Raleigh and Durham-Chapel Hill.

Figure 6
Asheville Metro
Average Hourly Earnings
Private Industry

Figure 6 Asheville Metro Average Hourly Earnings Private Industry 2018 3Q _ JPS Asheville Metro Economic Report 2018 3QSource: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

 

Figure 7
North Carolina Metros – 2018 3Q
Average Hourly Earnings
Private Industry

Figure 7 NC Metros 2018 3Q Average Hourly Earnings Private Industry _ JPS Asheville Metro Economic Report 2018 3Q

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Leisure & Hospitality

Buncombe County Lodging Sales set a new all-time quarterly record, totaling $121 million in the third quarter; $10.9 million or 10 percent above the third quarter of 2017 (Figure 8). Lodging Sales have experienced positive quarterly year-over-year growth for eight and three-quarters years.

Figure 8
Buncombe County
Lodging Sales

Figure 8 Buncombe County Lodging Sales _ JPS Asheville Metro Economic Report 2018 3Q

Source: Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority

Average Hotel Room Rates in Buncombe County rose by 4.2 percent from one year earlier, the largest percentage increase in a year and three-quarters (Figure 9). The room rate averaged $168 in the third quarter.

Figure 9
Buncombe County
Average Hotel Room Rate

Figure 9 Buncombe County Average Hotel Room Rate _ JPS Asheville Metro Economic Report 2018 3Q

Source: Smith Travel Research, Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority

Total Passenger Traffic at the Asheville Regional Airport equaled 308,327 in the third quarter of 2018; up 11.4 percent from a year earlier and setting a new all-time quarterly record (Figure 10). The previous record was set in the second quarter of 2018. This marks the eighth consecutive quarter with double-digit passenger increases.

Figure 10
Asheville Regional Airport
Total Passengers

Figure 10 Asheville Regional Airport Total Passengers _ JPS Asheville Metro Economic Report 2018 3Q

Source: Asheville Regional Airport

Housing

In the third quarter 2,017 home sales were closed in the Asheville metro with an average sales price of $325,760 and a median sales price of $269,167 (Figure 11). The number of homes sold is .06 percent above the number sold one-year earlier, while over the same period the average sales price gained 9.4 percent and the median price increased by 6.9 percent (Figure 12). The third quarter saw 2,876 new home listings, a 5.2 percent increase from the third quarter of 2017.

Figure 11
Asheville Metro
Home Sales*

Figure 11 Asheville Metro Home Sales _ JPS Asheville Metro Economic Report 2018 3Q

*At present only data from 1Q, 2Q and 3Q of years 2017 and 2018 are available.
When released, further quarters will be added.
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 Asheville Metro Economic Report 2018 3Q

*At present only data from 1Q, 2Q and 3Q of years 2017 and 2018 are available.
When released, further quarters will be added.
Source: NCMMLS, provided by Charlotte Regional REALTOR® Association

At 9.7 percent, Asheville metro’s Same-Home Annual Appreciation Rate in the third quarter ranks second among all the state’s metros; holding well above the national rate of 6.6 and statewide average rate of 7.4 percent (Figure 13). This marks the twenty-second consecutive quarter of positive Same-Home Appreciation Rates in the metro.

Figure 13
North Carolina Metros
Same-Home Annual Appreciation Rate (%)
2018 3Q

Figure 13 NC Metros Same-Home Annual Appreciation Rate % 2018 3Q _ JPS Asheville Metro Economic Report 2018 3Q

Source: Federal Housing Finance Agency

Estimated permit activity for new residential building totaled 774 units in the third quarter with a value of $150 million (Figure 14). In percentage terms, the total number of units permitted is down 6.3 percent from one year earlier, while the total value is up 1.0 percent. Multifamily accounted for 297 units or 38 percent of all residential units issued in the third quarter.

Figure 14
Asheville Metro
Estimated Residential Building Permits Activity*

Figure 14 Asheville Metro Estimated Residential Building Permits Activity 2018 3Q JPS

*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 metro totaled $2,070,654,113 ($2.0 billion) in the third quarter; crossing the two billion mark for the first time ever and setting a new all-time quarterly record. Sales were up 8.7 percent from the third quarter of 2017 (Figure 15). On average, quarterly retail sales have increased, year-over-year, by 7.3 percent or $120 million through the last eleven quarters.

Figure 15
Asheville Metro
Taxable Retail Sales

Figure 15 Asheville Metro Taxable Retail Sales _ JPS Asheville Metro Economic Report 2018 3QIncludes 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, business consulting, audit, fraud, 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.