Many Tennesseans Aren’t Even Looking For Jobs, State Economist Says

Unemployment in Tennessee has tracked above 8 percent for much of the last year, well above the national rate. Additionally, state economist Robert Curry says many people in the state have simply given up on finding work. (Credit photologue_np / flickr)

Unemployment in Tennessee has tracked above 8 percent for much of the last year, well above the national rate. Additionally, state economist Robert Curry says many people in the state have simply given up on finding work. (Credit photologue_np / flickr)

The percentage of Tennesseans working or trying to find a job is the lowest it’s been in more than a generation.  At a meeting of the state funding board, economists’ jobs forecasts were hardly rosy.

Unemployment rates count people who either have a job or are looking for one.  But sometimes people give up; they quit even trying to take part in the workforce.  What’s called the participation rate gives a sense as to how many.

State Economist Robert Curry:

“This accounts for people who are working plus people who are actively looking for work.  The participation rate is around 63 percent right now – that is still at about a 30-year low, going back to the late seventies.”

And Tennessee’s unemployment rate has hovered above eight percent for much of the last five years.  UT Economist Bill Fox thinks the reason it’s recently tracked a full percentage above the national rate is because the data is just wrong:

“My guess is, when they’re able to revise the data with better information, we’ll be much closer to the U.S. in terms of economic outlook.”

Fox says it’ll be easier to go back and check those numbers around February of next year.


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