TENNESSEE, USA — It has been around a year since the COVID-19 pandemic caused unemployment rates to spike across the U.S. — threatening businesses and incomes for thousands of workers in the state.
The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development said that the unemployment rate nudged up to 5% in March 2021, an increase of 0.1% from last month. Employers also added 15,400 jobs to the state's economy in March, officials said.
Most of the jobs were in trade, transportation and utility industries. The number of hospitality and government jobs also increased, officials said. However, the number of jobs in the education and health services sectors also decreased, officials said.
Wages also rose slightly for workers across the state. Officials said that weekly earnings rose to around $873, an increase of more than $6 compared to February's earnings. Workers also spent more time on the clock, according to a release from officials — rising to 42 hours per week.
In March 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic, the state's unemployment rate was 4%. Compared to last year, the size of the state's labor force also decreased by 13,303 workers. The participation rate in the state's labor rate was 60.5%, around 1% less than in March 2020.
In the U.S., the unemployment rate was 6% for March 2021 — 1.6% higher than the year before. The size of the national labor force also decreased nationally by more than 2.1 million workers. The total national labor force was around 160,558,000 in March 2021.
State officials said that more than 220,000 positions were open across Tennessee on the state's workforce development website.