NASHVILLE (AP) — Tennessee’s unemployment rate in May increased to 9.7 percent, up 0.1 percent from the April rate.
Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development Karla Davis said in a news release on Thursday the slight increase is a result of “significant growth in the labor force” because of optimism in the improving economy.
Says Davis: “Workers are entering the labor force faster than the economy is creating jobs.”
According to a survey of businesses, monthly employment increases came in leisure and hospitality, up 5,700 jobs; manufacturing, up 2,000; and mining, logging, and construction, up 1,900 jobs.
Declines occurred in private educational and health services, down 3,100 jobs; government, down 2,000; and professional, scientific and technical services, down 2,000.
• • • • •
COOKEVILLE (AP) — Cookeville police say a man believed to have been using "bath salts" threatened to perform surgery on himself. Such bath salts are receiving use as a recreational drug after reports of their mind-altering effects.
According to the Cookeville Herald-Citizen, a police report said the unidentified man believed something was in his leg and was preparing to do surgery on himself.
The man was hospitalized.
Detective Lt. Carl Sells said some of these substances are now coming from out of state.
• • • • •
CHATTANOOGA (AP) — Hamilton County is laying off 37 employees and another 17 vacant jobs will remain unfilled due to a $13.7 million reduction in next year’s budget.
Mayor Jim Coppinger announced the cuts in his proposed budget that includes a $7.2 million reduction for supported agencies, including Erlanger Health System and the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department. The next fiscal year starts July 1.
The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports the layoffs and vacant positions are in the finance department, health department, human services department, public works department and others.
Coppinger said the cuts are the result of the expiration of a 45-year-old sales-tax agreement between the city and the county. About $10.5 million that went to the county previously under the agreement now goes to the city.
• • • • •
JACKSON (AP) — Lambuth University will hold Celebrate Lambuth Day on Saturday as the Jackson school prepares to close.
Russ Ellis, vice president for development, describes the event as a great way to honor the school’s historic legacy.
The Jackson Sun reports activities will include a live auction of Lambuth memorabilia, a picnic on the quadrangle and rallies around the flagpole in the center of the campus.
Lambuth, affiliated with the United Methodist Church, just had its final graduation ceremony. The 168-year-old liberal arts school is closing because of mounting debt and not enough students or donations to keep it going.
• • • • •
NASHVILLE (AP) — A federal grand jury has returned indictments charging officials from a Knoxville highway construction contractor with destroying records to impede a federal investigation.
The four counts against Allen Roy DeFoe, founder of Tennessee Guardrail, and company vice president Kevin Eugene Peel allege they had company records shredded after a federal task force began looking into whether companies agreed not to bid against each other to drive up contract costs.
The Tennessean reports the task force was created in 2004 to investigate whether contractors were violating antitrust laws in bidding on contracts let by the Tennessee Department of Transportation after an audit exposed possible bid-rigging in state highway contracts.
A subpoena requesting financial records was sent to Tennessee Guardrail in 2006 by a federal grand jury in Nashville. The grand jury requested records of payments for meals, lodging, tickets to sporting events or concerts, or anything of value benefiting former or current TDOT employees.
The indictment in May says Peel and DeFoe took numerous boxes of documents to a shredding business and destroyed them after getting the subpoena.
The company won $37 million in state contracts since 2002 and currently has an active contract to repair guardrails in the Knoxville area.