East Tennessee State University economics professor Steb Hipple says employment in the Tri-Cities Metro area fell in the fourth quarter for the first time in more than two years.
Despite that, the overall unemployment rate for the last quarter of 2012 fell more than a half-percent to 6.7 percent.
Dr. Hipple says after three years of job growth the employment in the Tri-Cities consolidated statistical area has recovered to near pre-recession levels. The ETSU Bureau of Economics and Research says job growth stalled in all three cities during the last quarter.
The overall jobless rate for Bristol was 6.4 percent, 6.5 percent in Kingsport and 6.6 percent in Johnson City.