Unemployment in Tennessee fell below the national rate again last month as employers preparing for the Christmas holidays added workers and boosted the seasonally adjusted employment in the Volunteer State by 3,400 workers during November.
The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development said today that the state's jobless rate fell by a tenth of a percent last month to 3.6 percent. Although the jobless rate last month was higher than the historic low of 3.3 percent reached a year ago in Tennessee, the state's November unemployment rate was still below the U.S. rate of 3.7 percent and close to what economists say is full employment where all willing and able workers can find a job.
"For more than a year and a half, we've experienced historically low unemployment, while Tennessee businesses added tens of thousands of new employees to their payrolls," Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said in a statement today on the jobs report.
During the last 12 months, employment in Tennessee grew by 60,700 non-farm jobs, or 2 percent, to a record high of 3.26 million jobs. The state's leisure and hospitality sector, along with its trade, transportation and utilities and professional business services experienced the most job growth.
A separate household survey showed the number of people on the job grew 0.8 percent in Tennessee over the past 12 months, or less than half the U.S. growth pace of 1.8 percent in the same period. Employment growth in Tennessee is slowing, but a new University of Tennessee economic forecast released this week still projects Tennessee's economy will grow nearly as fast as it did this year in 2019 before slowing in 202o. But no downturn, or economic recession, is forecast for at least the next couple of years.
"Even though Tennessee's unemployment rate is slightly higher than it was this time last year, 3.3 percent (reached in the fall of 2017) was the state's all-time lowest jobless rate," Tennessee Labor Commissioner Burns Phillips said in today's employment report. "We've hovered around that historic low rate for many months and that proves Tennessee currently has a very healthy economy."
The strong labor market helped boost the average manufacturing wage in Tennessee last month by 11 cents per hour from $19.96 to $20.07. But factory wages in Tennessee last month still averaged 8 percent less than the U.S. average manufacturing wage of $21.82 per hour.