Tennessee Unemployment Rate Takes Upward Jump

Aug 15, 2014

12-month comparison of unemployment rates in Tennessee
Credit WUOT Image, Data from Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development

  Tennessee’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate rose sharply in July, the largest monthly increase in more than five years.  But economists say there’s no cause for alarm.

The rate rose from 6.6 percent in June to 7.1 percent last month.  The last time the rate increased half a percentage point from one month to another was March of 2009.  At that time, in the midst of the Great Recession, Tennessee’s rate rose from 9.6 percent to 10.1 percent.

Matt Murray of the University of Tennessee’s Center for Business and Economic Research warns against drawing conclusions from the increase because unemployment numbers can be volatile from month-to-month.  And he says July’s upswing looks more like a short-term adjustment.  “The unemployment rate moved down more quickly than I had expected early in the year,” Murray told WUOT News, “so things appear to be evening out.”

Murray says he expects the rate to recover from July’s increase.   “The economy should show continued growth,” he says, “and the longer-term trend is still downward movement in the rate.”

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development says the largest job increases in the last month occurred in financial activities, retail trade and mining, logging and construction. 

Tennessee’s rate trails the national rate of 6.2 percent, which rose one-tenth of a percent in July.