June had lowest unemployment in history


Tennessee’s unemployment rate last month was the lowest in state history, Gov. Bill Haslam announced. The state had a preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 3.6 percent in June.

“This is a story that’s spread across the state of Tennessee,” he said at a news conference, joined by Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Burns Phillips, Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe, Education Commissioner Candice McQueen, and Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor Flora Tydings.

The state had a preliminary unemployment rate of 4 percent in May.

Haslam said the unemployment figures came after decisions made by his administration and the state legislature. “We honestly think this is a result of the policies put in place by the state of Tennessee and the General Assembly,” he said.

The state’s previous low for unemployment rate was 3.7 percent in March 2000.

The last time Tennessee’s unemployment rate was below 4 percent was in February 2001.

The state has been tracking unemployment since 1976, Phillips said.

State officials also said the decrease in unemployment during June was largely due to declines in the seasonally adjusted labor force.

Between May and June, nonfarm employment increased by 5,900. Among the sectors that experienced the largest in-crease were leisure and hospitality, trade, transportation and utilities and mining, logging and construction.

When asked if the low unemployment rate has led to an increase in household incomes, Haslam said that information is not available on a monthly basis.

“As of six months ago we were the second fastest increase in the country in terms of average household income,” he said.

Tennessee’s June unemployment totals are in contrast with national figures, which indicate a slight increase in unemployment compared to the month before.

“When a state’s rate declines during a national uptick in unemployment, that’s something to note,” said Burns.

McQueen said the decline in unemployment comes as education officials continue to prepare students to enter the workforce. “We’re excited about these results because it continues to push our students to perform because they know they can get jobs and be connected to strong careers for their future,” she said.

Rhea County was the state’s lone county to see unemployment over 5 percent for June. But Haslam and Rolfe said the unemployment rate should change, given the recent announcement that Finnish tire manufacturer Nokian Tyres will bring a new plant to the area. The move is expected to generate 400 jobs.

The Nokian Tyres plant is one of several announcements Haslam and Rolfe, who recently traveled to Europe, have said will be coming to Tennessee in the coming months.

“At the end of the day, jobs get created when people put capital at risk,” Haslam concluded. “We’ve created and they’ve created an environment in Tennessee where people feel comfortable putting capital at risk.”

Source: Knoxville News Sentinel, by JOEL EBERT

The East Tennessee Economic Development Agency markets and recruits business for the 15 counties in the greater Knoxville-Oak Ridge region of East Tennessee. Visit www.eteda.org


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