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Tennessee unemployment drops to 3.8% in December 2021, with small labor force growth

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development said around 6,000 more people entered the workforce last month.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee's unemployment rate continued dropping in December, as the state's labor force gradually grew.

The Department of Labor and Workforce Development reported a 3.8% unemployment rate for December 2021 — ending the year with its lowest level since January 2020. At the same time, officials said the civilian labor force started growing once again.

For much of the year, labor force participation plummeted as people stayed home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, stagnant wages, and held out for remote work. In December 2021 though, there were 6,123 people who joined the labor force and started either looking for work or started working at a job.

The department also reported workers brought home a little more money per week, with earnings increasing by around $16. They also spent a little less time at work, with most clocking out after 43.3 hours over a week compared to 43.7 hours the month before.

Nationally, workers also brought home around $10 after working around 41.8 hours per week. The unemployment rate for the U.S. also fell to 3.9%, dropping by 0.3% points compared to the month before, with around 168,000 more people joining the country's labor force.

The manufacturing sector for non-durable goods and the healthcare sector both saw significant losses in Tennessee during December 2021, according to the report. There were around 5,800 fewer workers in the healthcare sector during December 2021 compared to last year.

However, more people started working in the leisure and hospitality industries this month, officials said.