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County jobless rate improved in December
Jan 30, 2007 12:00 am
For the nearly 2,000 who remained without jobs in Wilson County last month, the slight dip in unemployment in December may come as cold comfort. For the 55,000 who were employed last month, the declining jobless rate means more people are cashing in on the county's growing fortunes.
According to numbers released by the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development yesterday, the unemployment rate dipped half a percentage point between November and December to 3.4 percent. That means a few hundred more people had work last month over the month before.
Statewide, the unemployment rate was 4.4 percent in December, a .4 percent decline from the month before. The overall Nashville area rate declined, too, to 3.5 percent from 3.9 percent. Nationally, the rate of unemployment remained at a flat 4.3 percent.
G.C. Hixson, executive director of the county Joint Economic and Community Development Board attributed some of the rise in employment to seasonal work over the holidays – the majority of which, he said, came from retail stores staffing up for the Christmas shopping rush.
"I think it's a good place to be," Hixson said. "When you're a half point below the state, you're doing real well."
Unemployment is not always a negative, Hixson said. Lower rates can actually make it harder to increase the job pool. Hixson used Williamson County's 2.6 percent unemployment rate to emphasize the point.
"Williamson County is having a hard time attracting new businesses," he said. "With a rate that low, companies worry about finding workers close by to fill new positions."
"[Companies] that come in to analyze the work force want to see some unemployment," Hixson explained. "They want to know how far they'll have to go away from the facility to find workers. If there are some people looking for work in Wilson county, it means they won't have to look far if they come here."
Indeed, new businesses are bringing jobs to all parts of Wilson County. Though Hixson agreed that the majority of new retail jobs are located in Mt. Juliet and the western end of the the county, he said those jobs are balanced by growing industrial jobs in the Lebanon area.
Hixson said his organization is continuing to use the good news from the jobless rate to attract new business to Wilson County. The JECDB focuses on increasing sales tax revenue by finding new land for industry to locate on and recruiting new retail opportunities.
"It's a good mix," he said. "I'm happy with the progress we're making."