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Tennessee unemployment rate increases to 6.4%, still below national rate

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development said that unemployment rate increased by 1.2% for December 2020.

The unemployment rate inched upwards in Tennessee over December. Now, it is at 6.4%, an increase of 1.2% compared to the previous month.

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development said that the joblessness rate is still below the national rate, despite the increase. It is also still less than half its highest rate of the COVID-19 pandemic — 15.5% in April 2020.

The U.S. unemployment rate for December 2020 6.7%, according to the labor department.

Officials also said that the average weekly earnings of employed people in Tennessee increased too, at $906.49. However, the earnings are also less than the national average of $972.92.

Most gains were in the trade, transportation and utility sectors, officials said. Business and professional service also saw a large increase in the number of employed people, as well as the manufacturing industry. The total number of nonfarm jobs increased by 10,800 from November.

However, compared to the previous year, nonfarm employment decreased by around 100,300 jobs. Most losses were in government jobs, manufacturing jobs and in the hospitality sector.

Officials said that there are around 3,435,147 people in Tennessee's civilian labor force, an increase of 2.2% compared to last year.

Officials warned that the national economy was still far away from completely reopening to rehire more people. Some also said that the increase in jobless claims could be due to a federal financial aid package that was signed into law in late December, which provided a federal $300 per week unemployment benefit.

They said that once COVID-19 vaccines are more widely distributed, growth may accelerate in the second half of the year as Americans return to retailers, restaurants and other businesses.

In December 2019, the unemployment rate was at 3.3% in Tennessee.