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A report in the Memphis Business Journal reveals there were nine “mass layoffs” in August, 2010.  Mass layoffs are defined by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as “a layoff of 50 or more employees by a single company”.

It appeared things were looking better for the southern state as the numbers had been dropping, but on closer inspection, it’s clear the numbers are still high both from a historical standpoint for the state as well as the national averages, says A. Harrison Barnes, career coach and EmploymentCrossing.com founder.  There were almost 700 new claims for unemployment in August, down from 1,413 in July, but almost double the number from one year ago in August, 2009.

One possible explanation is the announcement of Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings that have begun for Blockbuster, Inc.  The massive home video giant’s Tennessee franchisee, Southern Store, is responsible for more than 12 Blockbuster locations in the Memphis area alone.  This has resulted in layoff in the area, despite reassuring customers that they will not feel the impact.  It’s expected store closings will eventually become a part of the giant’s bankruptcy package.

Blockbuster Video has taken a hard hit in recent years with the advances afforded via “on demand” services from online retailers such as Amazon and Apple, along with the DVRs and pay per movies available in most satellite television packages, says the EmploymentCrossing.com founder.  It maintains it will emerge “stronger and better than ever”.

News of Tennessee’s high numbers come even as neighboring state Alabama’s numbers “drop dramatically” and the number of national mass layoffs continue to decline.  Still, unemployment rose in 27 states and is now 9.7% nationally.

Further complicating matters, says A. Harrison Barnes, is the dramatic downturn of construction in the state as well as alarmingly low numbers associated with new home sales, home builds and even refinances.  If it weren’t bad enough, fuel prices rose seven cents in as many days.  “It’s tough to find perspective in these facts”, said one Chattanooga teacher.

Despite the gloomy news, there are a few bright spots.  Saint Francis will break ground in early October for a Bartlett Hospital expansion project, budgeted for $45.4 million and will allow for the facility to incorporate the latest in technological advances for the medical field.   The City of Memphis an Shelby County, TN, in a joint press release, announced twenty three massive new projects on the horizon that promise to provide at least 1,590 new jobs.

As with most things associated with the economy and jobs outlook, there’s both good and bad news and honestly, says Barnes, it comes own to deciding if you’re looking at a half full glass or a half empty one.  “Even as news comes that the recession was officially over more than a year ago, there’s still much work to be done to get Tennessee, as well as the country as a whole, back to its pre recession days”.

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