Tennessee joblessness falls to 3-year low

Tennessee joblessness falls to 3-year low

March 2nd, 2012 by Dave Flessner in Business Around the Region

January Joblessness

• 8.2 percent in Tennessee, the lowest since November 2008

• 9.2 percent in Georgia, the lowest since March 2009

With the addition of more than 25,000 jobs in January, Tennessee and Georgia began the new year with their lowest jobless rates in three years.

Unemployment in Tennessee fell below the national average during January for the first time in 14 months, the state Department of Labor & Workforce Development reported Thursday. The jobless rate declined by three-tenths of a percent to 8.2 percent, edging below the U.S. unemployment rate of 8.3 percent in January.

In Georgia, January's 9.2 percent jobless rate was still well above the U.S. average. But the addition of 13,000 jobs during the month helped lead to the biggest improvement in the year-over-year jobs picture in five years and cut Georgia's unemployment rate to the lowest since March 2009.

Tennessee Labor Commissioner Karla Davis said January's jobless rate in the Volunteer State was the lowest since November 2008 and was a full 2 percent lower than the year-ago rate.

"This month the numbers show an increase of 12,700 jobs so we are seeing positive growth in private industry," she said in releasing the employment figures. "The net gains are chipping away at the dramatic loss of jobs during the recession."

The number of unemployed persons in Tennessee during January, 257,500, is the lowest since November 2008. The number of employed Tennesseans, nearly 2.9 million, was the highest since March 2008.

"Year-over-year, the amount of goods production, specifically construction and durable goods manufacturing, was very strong," University of Tennessee economist Bill Fox said in a report released Thursday.

Construction employment in Tennessee is up by 12,500 jobs from a year ago, Fox said.

In Georgia, newly revised numbers also show that the Peach State gained 83,700 jobs in the past year.

"This job growth shows that Georgia is headed in the right direction," Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said.

The fastest job growth was in the business services sector, which includes temporary employment agencies, Butler said.

"Economists consider this to be a leading indicator that businesses are gaining confidence in the economy and are beginning to grow their businesses," he said.