NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee’s unemployment rate for April was 6.3 percent, the state’s lowest rate in six years.
According to the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, the state’s unemployment rate has decreased from 8.3 percent to 6.3 percent over the past year.
The current number of people unemployed is 192,000. That’s 11,700 lower than last month and the lowest since May 2008.
The national unemployment rate for April was also 6.3 percent.
State figures show that nonfarm employment increased by 2,400 jobs from March to April.
Further from the Chattanooga TFP:
But much of the decline in the jobless rate last month came from a decline in the number of Tennesseans in the labor force, not just from job additions.
“We’re seeing many Baby boomers retire and there are still many discouraged workers giving up looking for work,” said William Fox, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Tennessee. “But there is still a clear and consistent pattern of growth in the employment market this year and we expect that growth to continue.”
…But even with unemployment at the lowest level since the fall of 2008, the labor market appears to have enough slack to prevent workers from commanding bigger pay increases. In April, the average Tennessean earned $728.08 in weekly pay, or a mere 0.2 percent more than a year ago.
“One of the best indications of whether there are significant shortages in labor is what happens with wages,” Fox said. “What we haven’t seen yet is any upward pressure on wage rates and what that suggests is we still have some slack in the labor market.”
A new federal report says the share of Tennessee adults with jobs fell last year by the biggest amount of any state in the country, according to the Chattanooga Times-Free Press.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that only 55.6 percent of those over the age of 16 in Tennessee had jobs in 2013, down 1.1 percent from the 56.7 percent with jobs in the previous year.
Georgia also saw a slight dip last year in its employment-population ratio, falling 0.1 percent to 57.9 percent, BLS said.
Nationwide, an estimated 58.6 percent of adults had jobs in 2013, unchanged from the previous year.
The share of adults working is at at three-decade low as more adults are retired, more students are staying in school longer and unemployment remains at historically high levels. Many persons have simply dropped out of the labor force, economists said.
“We had trend increases when women and Baby Boomers entered the workforce in the 1960s and 1970s and now we’re seeing some trend decreases as Baby Boomers and others reitre and others drop out of the workforce,” said Dr. Bill Fox, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Tennessee. “Those trends have been certainly been exaggerated by the economic shifts and challenges we’re experienced through the recession and its aftermath.”
But Fox said he doesn’t believe those trends are different in Tennessee than they are in the country as a whole
News release from Department of Labor and Workforce Development:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Labor & Workforce Development Commissioner Burns Phillips announced today Tennessee’s unemployment rate for December is 7.8 percent, which is three tenths of one percentage point lower than the November revised rate. The national unemployment rate for December 2013 was 6.7 percent, down three tenths of one percentage point from November.
• Over the past two months, Tennessee’s unemployment rate decreased from 8.5% to 7.8%.
• The labor force is the lowest since March 2010, influenced by unemployment being the lowest since Oct. 2008.
• Total nonfarm employment decreased 900 jobs from November to December. The largest decreases occurred in leisure/hospitality, health care/social assistance, and government.
• Over the year, nonfarm employment increased 31,400 jobs. The largest increases occurred in leisure/hospitality, retail trade, and durable goods manufacturing.
Note: A table of statistics, including county-by-county rates, is available HERE.
From the Commercial Appeal:
More than 1 million Americans — including 18,000 Tennesseans — are girding for a harrowing, post-Christmas jolt as federal jobless benefits come to a screeching halt this weekend.
“The best way I can describe it is it’s simply horrifying,” said Midtown resident Saint Roland Jeancharles, 35.
He has been on unemployment since he lost his $75,000-a-year job as business systems analyst for ServiceMaster in April 2012.
…In Tennessee, the average(benefit payment) is $235 a week, or $1,018 a month. (The maximum is $275 per week.)
…The Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development announced earlier this month that the agency has been alerting more than 18,000 Tennesseans receiving federally extended unemployment insurance that those payments will soon end.
“We don’t want people who are presently receiving (emergency unemployment compensation)to be caught unaware, expecting their EUC benefits to continue into 2014,” Labor Commissioner Burns Phillips said in mid-December. “We also want workers to know that the Tennessee unemployment insurance program that provides the first 26 weeks of benefits is not affected by the expiration of the federal EUC extension.”
After Saturday, Tennessee will return to the system in which an approved new claim can have a maximum of 26 weeks of Tennessee Unemployment Compensation benefits.
Here’s a national AP story on the matter, subject of a dispute between Democrats and Republicans in Congress, of course.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee’s unemployment rate for November was 8.1 percent, four-tenths of one percentage point lower than the previous month.
Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Burns Phillips said the October to November rate change is the largest monthly decline since April 2010.
The national unemployment rate for November was 7 percent.
State figures show that nonfarm employment increased by 9,400 jobs from October to November.
A lot of people who have lost their jobs still can’t file claims for unemployment benefits on the Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s system, according to WSMV-TV, which also had report on the problems earlier this year.
“We can get as many as 20,000 calls that come into the phone lines, and, at most, we can handle about half of those calls,” said department spokesman Jeff Hentschel.
Hentschel also said the system has been back-logged since the recession started, but they have made recent improvements like a new form on the website for the unemployed having trouble with the filing system.
“You click on that and fill out the form, and you’ll get a call within two days,” Hentschel said.
The problem is we heard a much different story from frustrated job seekers.
“The request form is working, but the response since your original story has been extraordinary. The department was initially receiving approximately 100 requests per day, which has recently peaked at 800 per day,” Hentschel said.
The department also adjusted the response time from two days to five to seven working days.
Narveson filed a claim back in August when he lost his job. He was able to find work since then but says his hours were recently cut. He wants to file a new claim but hasn’t been able to get through.
News release from state Department of Labor and Workforce Development:
NASHVILLE – The Budget Control Act of 2011, also known as “sequestration,” requires budget reductions to many federal programs, including the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program. To meet the federal requirement for sequestration for fiscal year 2014, Tennessee must reduce all federal EUC benefits paid on or after October 5, 2013, by 4.4 percent.
EUC claims that are mid-tier as of October 5, 2013, will continue at the same weekly amount until the current EUC tier ends. All new EUC claims and EUC claims that transition to a new tier as of the week ending October 5, 2013, or later, will be reduced by 4.4 percent.
Approximately 20,000 Tennessee claimants currently receiving EUC or transitioning into EUC from Tennessee Unemployment Compensation program will be affected. Benefits received under the state’s unemployment compensation program, generally the first 26 weeks (maximum) of available benefits, will not be reduced.
Claimants are being notified of the reduction during their weekly Internet or telephone certification.
News release from Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development:
NASHVILLE – The TN Department of Labor & Workforce Development today announces most employers will pay a reduced amount on their quarterly unemployment insurance premium rates.
Unemployment insurance rates will decrease because the balance of Tennessee’s Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund on June 30 was more than $650 million, triggering the permanent expiration of the .6% additional fee in premium rates. Additionally, the trust fund trigger temporarily shifted the Premium Rate Table from table three to five, further increasing potential savings for employers for the next two calendar quarters.
Legislation enacted in June 2009 created a temporary additional fee of .6% on all unemployment insurance premium rates. This provision became effective January 1, 2009 as the trust fund became nearly insolvent, causing the state to take a $20 million interest-free loan from the federal government to continue benefit payments. The state paid back the federal loan within a month, and the measure has steadily improved the health of the fund to its balance of $817,606,274 as of August 23, 2013.
“Tennessee has shown a tremendous amount of fiscal responsibility managing the fund into which employers contribute,” said Labor & Workforce Development Commissioner Burns Phillips. “This announcement is good news for both employers and the citizens of our state.”
Employers were mailed notifications of the changes to their individual accounts at the end of August showing their revised premium rate for the third and fourth quarters of the current year.
Eight Employer Accounts offices are located across the state and are staffed with auditors who answer employers’ questions. They can assist Tennessee employers who are starting a business understand premium and wage reporting and the payment of premiums. The directory below lists the Employer Accounts office locations in Tennessee.
Note: Below is a news release on the same subject from Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, who credits legislation he supported.
News release from state Department of Labor and Workforce Development:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Labor & Workforce Development Commissioner Burns Phillips announced today Tennessee’s preliminary unemployment rate for June is 8.5 percent, which increased two tenths of one percentage point from the May revised rate of 8.3 percent. The national unemployment rate for June 2013 was 7.6 percent, unchanged from the previous month.
Tennessee’s June unemployment rate increased to 8.5 percent.
Over the past year, Tennessee’s unemployment rate increased from 8.2 percent to 8.5 percent.
Total nonfarm employment decreased 16,500 jobs from May to June.
The largest decreases occurred in government, manufacturing, and health care/social assistance.
Over the year, nonfarm employment increased 32,000 jobs. The largest increases were in professional/business services, leisure/hospitality, and retail trade.
A showdown over a new state law might end up costing thousands of Tennesseans their unemployment benefits, as the state is facing an impossible choice: either defy the law or put families at risk, according to WSMV-TV.
The new law that had been set to take effect Monday is meant to cut payments to unemployment recipients who have children.
For now, the state pays the first 26 weeks of benefits, then the federal government pays an extra 37 weeks. But that money comes with strings attached. Namely, states can’t cut benefits.
“To find out, first of all, that the Republican Party was OK taking money away from children when their parents are unemployed was unbelievable and heartless,” said State Rep. Sherry Jones, D-Nashville.
People on unemployment who have children get an extra $15 a week per child, but state lawmakers passed a bill to eliminate that extra money.
The new law had been primed to go into effect Monday, but the Tennessee Department of Labor decided to hold off.
….According to federal law, if states make certain cuts to it unemployment benefits, they risk losing federal benefits entirely.
As of January, around 30,000 in Tennessee were receiving those federal benefits. The Department of Labor was all ready to enact the new law, even notifying people on the state website that the money was going away.
However, Director of Benefit Operations Mark Stiles sent out an email Friday, letting people know that they wouldn’t be cutting these benefits until the end of the year.
Democratic state lawmakers say it appears the Department of Labor is poised to break its own law to preserve those benefits.
…The Tennessee Department of Labor is now seeking guidance from the federal government about the impact of removing these dependent benefits.
Until they make a decision, the benefits stay.
A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Labor said the benefits are still active in Tennessee, but the case remains under review.