Unemployment low, workforce demand high

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Employment numbers for Lewisburg and Marshall County remain strong heading into the end of the year.

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development released September’s preliminary unemployment numbers last week.

The county ranked eighth in the state with an unemployment rate of 2.5 percent, down from August’s 3.1 percent figure.

In September, 2016, the county’s number was 5 percent.

This is the second time this year that the county has hit the 2.5 percent number and the third month this year to be among the 10 lowest rates in the state.

“This is good because we have also seen an increase in our labor force - up to 16,060 - an increase of over 4,000 people since Dec. 2014,” said Greg Lowe, director of economic development for Lewisburg. “So we have more people getting back into the labor force, more people working and fewer on unemployment.”

Low unemployment does create a separate set of issues, however.

“Such a low unemployment rate, a persistently low unemployment rate, is causing a serious strain on our local employers from every sector - manufacturing and retail especially,” Lowe said.

Lowe said that much of his focus now is working on ways to recruit and develop a workforce to fill those jobs.

“We are working closely with our local school system, local employers and post-secondary training institutions to market all the careers available in Marshall County going unfilled today as a result of the labor issue,” said Lowe.

Many other counties in the region face the same challenges and are beginning to explore solutions in order “to create a true pipeline of new, young workers to fill these labor gaps and maintain a strong local economy for years to come,” said Lowe.

For the first time in history, all 95 Tennessee counties posted unemployment rates under five percent.

Overall the state unemployment rate is 3 percent, the lowest in the Southeast and eighth lowest in the nation.

The state has set records for employment the past four consecutive months.

The national unemployment rate also dropped to 4.2 percent.