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Tennessee unemployment rate falls amid more job additions

Story courtesy of Dave Flessner at Chattanooga Times Free Press


Tennessee and Georgia employers continued to add jobs this fall at a faster pace than the U.S. as a whole, cutting the states' jobless rate during November to 3.3% in both states, or 0.2 percentage points below the U.S. average.


The unemployment rate in Georgia reached an 18-year low and Tennessee's rate was only a tenth of a percentage point above the all-time low reached in Tennessee earlier this year when the jobless rate fell to 3.2% during February, March and April.


The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development said employment across the state rose by 46,700 jobs over the past year, growing the total number of jobs in Tennessee by 1.5% to a record high. In Georgia, employers also grew employment 1.5% across the Peach State, adding 69,000 more jobs in the past 12 months to reach a new employment peak in the state.


But Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said he is eager for more workers to join the labor market and look for work.


"We have seen the labor force start growing again, but it's still not where I want it to be," Butler said. "I'd like to see it grow even more. We need more individuals in the work force to take all the jobs we have open."


Tennessee's jobless rate has remained below 4% since March 2017 and last month's rate matched the same level of a year ago.


"We've had a consistently low unemployment rate for nearly two years, and that points to a strong and healthy economy here in Tennessee," Tennessee Labor Commissioner Jeff McCord said. "While it's great more people are going to work each day, for those who are not, we have many services that can help them find meaningful employment.


Unemployment nationwide dropped in November. The United States' seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 3.5%, 0.1 of a percentage point lower than it was in October.


For manufacturing workers, hourly pay rose last month in Tennessee by an average of 20 cents per hour to $20.30, while the average workweek grew in the Volunteer State by another hour to 42.1 hours.


Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6340.

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