Rutherford County's Economic Fortitude: A Look at the Job Market in 2023

Jan 19, 2024 at 12:16 pm by WGNS News

RUTHERFORD COUNTY, TN - As we step into the fourth week of 2024, the echoes of a robust job market in 2023 still resonate. The year concluded with another strong jobs report, capping off a remarkable period for labor nationwide. Tennessee's unemployment held steady in December 2023, with the Volunteer State reporting an overall jobless rate of 3.5%. While county-specific figures are pending, November's data showcased positive trends.

Within Rutherford County, our local cities continue to outshine national averages. If the numbers from November held steady into December, then we will likely hear good news when December unemployment figures are released next week. Looking back to November, Smyrna took the lead with an impressive 2.6% unemployment rate, marking a -0.2 point decrease from October into November figures. LaVergne followed closely with a 2.7% unemployment rate, and Murfreesboro reported a commendable 2.8% for November. Rutherford County secured the 4th lowest unemployment rate in Tennessee this past November, further highlighting its economic resilience.


Job growth remained a consistent theme throughout 2023, as reflected in the Bureau of Labor Statistics data. The U.S. economy surpassed expectations with 216,000 job gains in December, contributing to a 36-month trend of growth. The year concluded with a total job growth of 2.7 million, averaging a monthly gain of 225,000. While these figures slightly dipped compared to 2022, the overall trajectory remained positive.

Reflecting on the past, Tennessee has witnessed significant improvements in unemployment statistics. In 2012, the average unemployment rate stood at 8%, dropping to 5.6% by 2015. Despite the disruptions caused by the COVID Pandemic in 2020, the state managed to recover, ending 2023 with a serene 3.4% unemployment rate—2 percentage points lower than the U.S. average.

Delving into Rutherford County's economic landscape, DATA USA provides insights into earning potential and payroll distribution. The manufacturing sector claims the highest payroll, exceeding $4.2 million annually. Educational services, healthcare, and social assistance follow closely with a combined annual payroll of over $1.7 million. The finance, insurance, and real estate industries secure the third spot, with an annual earning of approximately $1 million.

Changing trends in Rutherford County's business landscape are evident, with the wholesale and trade industry experiencing a notable drop in annual payroll. On the flip side, Information Technology has seen a significant rise, marking a 13%+ increase in payroll. Before the COVID Pandemic, the restaurant industry, inclusive of arts and entertainment, exhibited promising growth, with a nearly 12% increase.

Rutherford County's job market continues to evolve, showcasing resilience, adaptability, and sustained growth, making it a beacon of economic strength in Tennessee.


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