Tennessee's jobless rate rose last month to its highest monthly level since last summer, but the state still had more job openings than it does people looking for work.
The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development said today that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in the state edged up from 3.4 percent in April to 3.5 percent in May. That was the highest rate since July, but the increase came due to the continued influx of workers into the labor market, not any cutback in jobs.
In fact, Tennessee employers added a net 7,800 jobs last month. Over the past 12 months, employers in Tennessee have added 53,400 jobs.
But last month, the workforce grew slightly faster than the new jobs added, boosting the jobless rate slightly. Tennessee's jobless rate remained below the comparable U.S. rate of 3.8 percent last month.
Even with more workers in the labor market, Tennessee Career Centers said there are 177,522 available jobs in the state or 48 percent more job openings than the 119,800 persons who were unemployed but looking for work during May.
Tennessee's jobless rate has remained below 4 percent since April 2017 and hit an all-time low of 3.3 percent at the end of last year.
While the pace of job additions has slowed, employment has continued to increase in Tennessee for nearly eights years following the worst recession since before World War II.
Tennessee's unemployment rate in May has steadily trended lower from 9.2 percent in 2011 to only 3.5 percent last month.
"We have made tremendous progress over the last seven years, bringing new businesses to the state and creating hundreds of thousands of new private sector jobs," Gov. Bill Haslam said in announcing the new jobless figures today.
The household survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed the number of working Tennesseans grew by 1.9 percent in the past year, compared with a 1.7 percent growth in working Americans nationwide.
Despite the faster rate of job growth in Tennessee, weekly manufacturing pay last month in Tennessee averaged $843.66 a week, or 6.4 percent less than the U.S. average weekly factory pay of $9.02.66.