Jobless rates drops to 8.7% in Tennessee

Jobless rates drops to 8.7% in Tennessee

January 19th, 2012 by Dave Flessner in Local - Breaking News

Timothy Goines, left, has help from Adrian Craighead while looking for jobs on the computer at the Tennessee Employment Service Office at Eastgate Center in Brainerd in this file photo.

Photo by Dan Henry/Times Free Press.

Unemployment in Tennessee fell to its lowest level in three years last month but remained above the national average.

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development said 11,200 more people were employed in December than in the previous month, cutting the state's seasonally adjusted jobless rate by 0.4 percent to 8.7 percent.

Nationwide, the unemployment rate declined by one-tenth of a percent in December to 8.5 percent.

"This is the lowest unemployment rate Tennessee has experienced since December 2008 when the rate was 8.4 percent," Tennessee Labor Commissioner Karla Davis said.

Employment grew by 2.3 percent over the past year with job gains in local schools, construction and manufacturing. In the past year, the number of Tennesseans on the job fell in transportation and utilities, information services and hospitals.

University of Tennessee Economist Bill Fox said Tennessee's job gains were even stronger than the U.S. as a whole.

"The drop in Tennessee's unemployment rate mirrors what is happening nationally, but Tennessee has had much stronger employment growth," Fox said.