Tenn.’s economic growth outpaces nation’s

5/16/2017

The number of Tennessee business filings increased in the first quarter of 2017, signaling economic strength in the year ahead.

Tennessee posted an 8.7 percent gain the number of new business filings, compared to the first three months of 2016. The increase marks the 22nd consecutive quarter of growth, according to a report from the secretary of state’s office.

“These strong numbers give us a good idea that Tennessee’s economy will continue to grow,” said Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett. “It’s obvious that Tennessee has a climate that continues to attract new businesses.”

The state’s employment growth outpaced the nation, increasing by 2.2 percent in March. The growth was led by construction and tourism jobs, according to William Fox, director of University of Tennessee Knoxville’s Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research.

“A lot of new building (is) going on in Tennessee,” Fox said. “There is a lot around Nashville, but every part of the state is seeing sound increases in construction. Leisure and hospitality is growing very fast.”

Amid the demand, Fox said business leaders and builders statewide point to a tight labor supply. As construction workers approach retirement age, builders are especially concerned about the size of the workforce in the coming years, he said.

“It is a challenge to find skilled workers,” Fox said. “This is why it’s so important for Tennessee to continue its efforts, like Drive to 55, that are focused on helping us improve our labor force. The economy and our employers need it. Our ability to maintain this kind of employment growth is a challenge unless we can continue expanding the labor force and its quality.”

While Tennessee’s unemployment rate declined to 5.1 percent from 5.3 percent, it remained above the national unemployment rate of 4.5 percent.

Davidson County had the largest amount of new business filings, with 2,395 filings, followed by Shelby County. Hamilton County, home to Chattanooga, had the strongest growth in the last year, as filings increased by 32 percent.

Source: Knoxville News Sentinel, by JAMIE MCGEE

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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