Tennessee boasts 260,000 jobs on, but what does it mean for you?

Posted at 9:00 PM, May 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-12 22:00:23-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — 250,000 jobs is a number we heard plenty of Tuesday, as Gov. Bill Lee announced the state would opt out of federal unemployment programs.

The next day, the number of jobs on the Jobs4TN website increased to more than 260,000. We wanted to know more about these jobs that Gov. Lee says should fit most job seekers.

The site shows you 10,000 jobs at a time based on where you are, which in this case was Downtown Nashville.

Of the first 100 jobs, we found 24 listings paying at least $10/hr. One job paid less, while another 75 listings paid at least $15/hr. Several of these jobs only barely made it past each threshold, depending on your experience level. When you consider 58 listings require you’ve done the job elsewhere for at least a month, Professor Andy Borchers says this presents a major problem.

“In time, employers may have to adjust their requirements. Employees may have to adjust their willingness as far as how far they will drive or what they will be willing to do to gain employment. There's a real potential for a mismatch in the labor market," Borchers said.

Borchers is the Associate Dean of the College of Business at Lipscomb University. He says many have had to start over and find new jobs they may not have the skills for, which automatically disqualified them from more than half the jobs we searched.

We also found that 42 jobs required a high school degree and 13 required a college degree. Gov. Lee said on Tuesday that the state’s data suggests we have the skilled workers to fill these positions.

Borchers says typically any mismatches work themselves out over time, but these are unprecedented times. The pandemic forced people to consider what to do with child care and their health while working outside their homes.

Less than half the jobs we found mentioned any workplace benefits like health or dental insurance and 401k retirement match. Workers we spoke to say these benefits often mean the difference between applying for one job over another. Some say it’s even more important than salary.

Borchers says the focus for the state should be on workforce development. He says not all jobs are created equal and not everyone will find their match on the site.

The new changes would affect all unemployment claims filed after July 3. This comes on the heels of Tennessee lawmakers passing a bill that would cut unemployment weeks in the state from 26 to 12 weeks. The number of weeks would fluctuate based on the unemployment rate at the time.

If the rate is 5.5 percent or higher, claimants get another week for every half percent it’s above that threshold with a max of 20 weeks. The state’s current unemployment rate sits at 5.1 percent.

Lawmakers have said they will increase state unemployment benefits by $50 to $325 per week. That number is still shy of the nationwide average by $62.