Record low unemployment, low tax burden continue in state

Published 10:55 am Monday, March 19, 2018


The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development this week announced that unemployment across Tennessee has remained at a record low since the start of 2018. In addition, Wallet Hub — a nonpartisan organization focused on the financial industry — has officially ranked Tennessee as the lowest taxed state in the entire nation.
The unemployment rate in January of 2018 was 1.2 percent lower than the rate for the same month one year ago and has remained 3.3 percent since September 2017. Tennessee’s statewide unemployment rate has been below 4 percent since May 2017.
As multiple studies have noted, this long stretch of low unemployment is a testament to the economic climate in the state, allowing employers the ability to continue to tap into the Tennessee’s talented workforce to create high-quality, high-paying jobs. The wholesale trade sector in Tennessee saw the biggest gain in jobs during January. Health care and social assistance ranked second in job growth during the month.
More than 3.1 million Tennesseans are currently working in Tennessee, a number that sets a state record.
While many politicians in Washington and around the country continue policies of reckless spending and partisan bickering, lawmakers in Tennessee have proudly passed initiatives that exercise fiscal restraint, save money for the future, and fully-fund the state’s educational priorities.
Because of this stark contrast with the rest of the nation, Tennessee has rapidly climbed the ladder as one of the overall best-managed states in the country. Coupled with the fact that Tennessee is one of only a handful of states with a higher bond rating than that of the federal government — a major indicator that showcases our state’s stable fiscal environment — it is easy to see why so many are looking to Tennessee for economic guidance.
Other recent awards for the state include:
• Being named the 3rd best state in the nation for business by Business Facilities Magazine;
• Placing 2nd place in Site Selection magazine’s annual Prosperity Cup, which ranks states based on overall tax and business climate;
• Ranking 2nd in the country for transportation/road quality and 2nd in cost of living by CNBC;
• And being named the #1 state in the nation for retirement by
These accolades are in addition to the other accomplishments Republican lawmakers have achieved since 2011, including cutting more than $800 million in taxes over the last 7 years and education advancements that have led to the fastest improving student test scores in the entire country.
There is no doubt that in Tennessee, things are moving in the right direction. Through a strong partnership of the General Assembly’s Republican majority and the work of Governor Bill Haslam, Tennessee has been successful in attracting job-creators, inspiring entrepreneurs, and putting people back to work. While Washington and many states around the country are struggling to come together, Tennessee is truly doing things the right way.
As another example of the upward swing in Tennessee’s economy, there have been numerous major business expansions recently announced by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development and House Republicans. Over the last few months, dozens of companies, both from within the state and from other parts of the country, have decided to expand their operations in Tennessee. With these expansion projects, thousands of jobs will be created along with hundreds of millions of dollars invested into local communities.
Some of the most prominent of the recently announced expansions include:
• FedEx Corporation, Shelby County — The Memphis hub project includes construction of a new facility and installation of state-of-the-art sort systems, construction of a bulk truck loading building, and a new area to improve package handling. The new $1 billion investment is in addition to a current FedEx facility that already employs over 11,000 team members.
• JDS Technologies, Inc., Scott County — The second of JDS’ manufacturing facilities in Tennessee, the new facility means an investment of $2.2 million and the creation of 110 new jobs.
• Green Applications, LLC, Johnson County — A leading supplier specializing in LED lighting products for commercial, residential, marine, and automotive applications, Green Applications will expand operations in Mountain City, investing $1 million and creating 50 new jobs over the next five years.
• Master Tool & Die, Inc., Sullivan County — Founded in Kingsport in 1988, Master Tool & Die provides custom machining, welding, fabrication, and other services for businesses throughout the southeast. Their new expansion will yield $557,500 in local investment and 25 new jobs to the area.
• DENSO, McMinn County — Expansion of the automotive suppliers new facility in Athens means 320 new jobs and community investment of $190 million.
• Asurion, LLC, Davidson County — Nashville-based Asurion is a global technology company that provides support solutions and protection for smartphones, tablets, consumer electronics, and other devices. The company operates in dozens of countries and has 17,000 employees worldwide — Nashville’s new expansion means an additional 400 jobs for Tennessee.
Monday evening, House Republicans — including State Representative John Holsclaw (R-Elizabethton) passed legislation outlawing TennCare reimbursements to the state’s abortion providers.
House Bill 2251 aims at protecting the sanctity of life by eliminating taxpayer funding to facilities that perform elective abortions. It does not impact the availability of other critical health care services offered to Tennessee women.
While some believe taxpayer dollars have been banned from funding abortions in Tennessee, documents from the Tennessee Department of Finance & Administration show providers across the state have received almost $1 million in funding from 2012-2017. Supporters of House Bill 2251 hope to change this by ending taxpayer assistance to these facilities once and for all.
The legislation passed this week is the latest in a series of initiatives designed to protect Tennessee’s unborn.
During the 2017 legislative session, Republican lawmakers passed the Tennessee Infants Protection Act; it prohibits abortions after 24 weeks — except in medical emergency — and requires testing to determine viability of an unborn child if a woman is at least 20 weeks pregnant. The Tennessee Infants Protection Act also holds physicians who perform late-term abortions accountable for their actions.
This week, Republican lawmakers voted unanimously to pass legislation that supports Tennessee’s caregivers. Now that it has passed in the House, it will be sent to the desk of Governor Haslam to be signed into law.
House Bill 1498 assists caregivers by enabling them to take an occasional, much-needed break from their responsibilities caring for elderly or vulnerable family members by offering additional support services from community organizations.
These brief recesses allow caregivers to recharge and also provide opportunities for them to interact socially with others. Studies indicate that breaks are one of the main requests made by those seeking counseling related to the stresses that are often associated with caring for elderly or vulnerable family members.
Caregiving is a labor of love, but it can also be a tremendous challenge. The daily responsibilities ranging from providing transportation, cooking meals, helping with bathing and dress, or even managing a family member’s finances can become overwhelming. House Bill 1498 supports the state’s caregivers by helping them realize they are not alone as they strive to provide the best possible care for their loved ones.
According to the American Association of Retired Persons, 40 million Americans help parents, spouses, and other loved ones live independently at home each day. Here in Tennessee, there is a critical need. Our state’s elderly population is expected to climb from its current level of 974,000 to almost 1.4 million over the next 15 years.
House lawmakers appreciate the selfless actions of Tennessee caregivers and are committed to providing additional resources that support them in their daily work.
(John Holsclaw serves as Chairman of the House Business & Utilities Subcommittee. He is also a member of the House Business & Utilities and House Health Committees. Holsclaw lives in Elizabethton and represents House District 4, which includes Unicoi and part of Carter Counties. He can be reached by email at or by calling (615) 741-7450.)

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