Report: Tennessee shows improved prime-age employment rate from before pandemic



(The Center Square) – Tennessee is one of 26 state’s that has improved its employment rate between now and before the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Pew Research.

Tennessee saw a 2 percentage point improvement from 79.9% employment for those ages 25 to 54 in the first three months of 2020 compared to 81.9% employment for that age group in the first three months of 2023.

The states with the largest gain during that time were Utah (3.8 percentage points), Mississippi (3.4 percentage points) and South Dakota (3.3 percentage points).

“Unlike the often-cited unemployment rate, the ratio of prime-age workers to same-age population helps account for older and younger workers’ choices about retirement or full-time education,” the report said. “It also factors in the total population, including those not actively looking for work.

“Employment tends to be a key driver of state finances, as paychecks help generate individual income tax dollars and fuel consumer spending, which produces sales and corporate income tax revenue.”

The report comes at the same time the National Federation of Independent Business said its Small Business Optimism Index increased 1.6 points in June with the largest concerns continuing to be inflation and labor quality.

The report said that 59% of small business owners reported trying to hire with 92% reporting few or no qualified applicants for the positions they were trying to hire.

“Small business optimism nationwide improved slightly last month, but Main Street businesses are dealing with inflated prices on everything from raw materials to rents and struggling to find and keep qualified workers,” said NFIB Tennessee State Director Jim Brown. “That’s making it hard for many of them to get back on their feet and plan ahead.”

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