TN Unemployment 9.6 Percent; Future Prospects ‘Pretty Good’

By Lucas Johnson
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The recent announcement of hundreds of new jobs coming to Tennessee is further indication the state’s economy is growing stronger, says a top economist.
Gov. Bill Haslam said last Thursday that IQT Inc., a leading provider of customer relationship management services, is establishing its headquarters in downtown Nashville and plans to hire more than 900 people over the next five years.
The Republican governor followed that up the next day with an announcement that automotive parts supplier SL Tennessee is expanding in East Tennessee and creating 100 jobs.
Bill Fox, director of the University of Tennessee’s economic research center, said the state’s job growth has been pretty solid and that the addition of new jobs “further signals that we can expect pretty good job growth the next year or so.”
Despite the increase in jobs, Fox noted the state’s unemployment rate remains about the same. The most recent unemployment figure is 9.6 percent.

“As people hear about jobs, more people start looking for jobs,” he said. “So the unemployment rate isn’t coming down very fast.”
Also this week, Haslam signed legislation that will extend unemployment benefits for thousands of Tennesseans.
The benefits ran out in April for about 28,000 jobless people in Tennessee after state officials didn’t change state law to comply with new federal standards. The extension would pay for up to 20 more weeks of unemployment benefits.
Haslam has authorized about $3 million in state funds to help draw about $60 million in federal money for the benefits.
In May, the governor unveiled a $50 million initiative to promote innovation across Tennessee to boost the state’s economy.
The initiative is a component of the governor’s Jobs4TN strategy and will be managed by the state Department of Economic and Community Development.
“Unfortunately we lag behind in some key things like patents per citizen created in Tennessee and the number of engineers and science professionals,” Haslam said at the time. “This is all focused on taking our innovative capacity, growing that and finding ways to bring that to market and grow jobs.”

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