Economically good year in 2017

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

By any measure, Lewisburg, and Marshall County as a whole, had a good year economically in 2017.

“To say it’s been a good couple of years would be an understatement,” said the city’s Director of Economic Development Greg Lowe when he briefed the Lewisburg City Council and the Industrial Development Board on the numbers.

The county finished the year with a yearly unemployment average of 3.4 percent.

January, 2017, saw the unemployment at its highest rate for the year at 4.9 percent. The numbers decreased throughout the year, with the county ranking four times among the ten lowest unemployment numbers among the 95 counties in Tennessee.

Twice, in May and September, the county reached 2.5 percent, as low as the rate has ever been. Since September, the rate stayed below 3 percent every month.

Unemployment remains low despite the growth of the county’s labor force. In September, the number of workers in the county topped 16,000, a 31 percent increase over the past five years.

Marshall County has the highest labor force participation in the south central Tennessee region at 62 percent.

Headlight Data, a data company directed toward business development professionals, ranked the county 14th out of 2,155 counties with populations under 50,000 for job growth between the first quarter of 2016 and 2017. Their numbers showed a 16.6 percent increase.

With such low unemployment, the challenge currently is finding qualified employees to fill jobs.

Much of Lowe’s focus, he said, was on assisting in the development of sufficient workforce to fill positions.

Lewisburg landed one major addition to its manufacturing base during the year with the Minth Group, a Chinese auto part supplier who hasn’t yet the bulk of its hiring.

Lowe also noted that the recent announcement of a Toyota/Mazda plant in Huntsville had already spurred additional inquiries to his office.

He also noted that, with a strong local economy, that median household income rose 11 percent during the year and per capita income by 19 percent.

Those numbers contributed to a 35 percent increase in building permits and a 53 percent increase in business licenses.