Unemployment Decreases in May after Reaching All-Time High

Unemployment declines as Tennesseans Return to Work Following COVID-19 Closures
Thursday, June 18, 2020 | 01:30pm

NASHVILLE – Tennessee’s statewide unemployment rate for May 2020 dropped by 4.2 percentage points from the record high set in April, according to data released by the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

In May, the seasonally adjusted jobless rate decreased to 11.3%.

Additional data changed Tennessee’s preliminary rate for April from 14.7% to 15.5%, which is now the state’s highest unemployment rate on record.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic impacted Tennessee’s economy, the state’s previous record-setting unemployment rate was 12.9% in January 1983.

Tennessee employers added 93,900 nonfarm jobs between April and May. Leisure/hospitality, manufacturing, and other services sectors had the biggest month-to-month increases.

While the state gained new jobs in May, there was a significant drop in the year-to-year comparison of job numbers. Tennessee lost 265,800 jobs between May 2019 and May 2020. The impact of the COVID-19 closures impacted the leisure/hospitality sector the most, followed by the manufacturing and professional/business services sectors.

Since March, Tennessee has experienced a historic surge in unemployment due to businesses closing to help slow the spread of COVID-19. For the week ending June 13, the state paid just over 300,000 people unemployment benefits, totaling more than $291 million for the week.

Across the country, unemployment did not decline as much as it did in Tennessee. The national preliminary unemployment rate for the United States decreased in May to 13.3%, down 1.4 percentage points from April’s rate.

You can find a complete analysis of Tennessee’s May unemployment data here.

Currently, there are more than 166,000 job openings posted on the state’s workforce development website, www.Jobs4TN.gov. Tennesseans will also find free assistance with improving job search skills, updating resumes, and job training opportunities on the site.

The state of Tennessee will release the May 2020 county unemployment rates at 1:30 p.m. CT Thursday, June 25, 2020.