Unemployment drops across UC

By Michelle Price
UCBJ Managing Editor

NASHVILLE – For the month of September, unemployment dropped in every county in the Upper Cumberland and in 90 of 95 counties statewide according to newly released September 2019 data from the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD).

Rates were lower than the September 2018 rates across the Upper Cumberland except for Fentress and Warren counties which experienced increases of less than .2 percentage points and Clay County which had a 1.3 percentage point increase over last year.

Clay County’s unemployment decreased by 0.4 percentage points to 5.6%, the highest unemployment rate in the state. Clay has now held the highest unemployment rate in the state for five of the past seven months, beginning in March when Cumberland River Hospital ceased operations.

“Tennessee’s unemployment rate continues to hold steady and indicate a healthy state-wide economy,” said TDLWD Commissioner Jeff McCord. “Our business-friendly environment is fundamental to allowing employers the opportunity to succeed and create job opportunities for the people who call Tennessee home.”

Overall, the Upper Cumberland’s unemployment is down 0.2 percentage points from the previous month with a current rate of 3.5%, the number of unemployed in the U.C. only rose by 607 to 7,690 while the labor force increased by 716 to 154,441 with 146,751 employed.  

The three counties within the Nashville-Murfreesboro Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) again had the lowest unemployment rates with Smith at 2.7% being the lowest in the Upper Cumberland, followed by Macon at 2.8% and Cannon at 2.9%.

The Upper Cumberland’s three distressed counties had the highest unemployment in the region with Clay at 5.6% and Fentress at 4.1% and Jackson at 4.0%.

Other Upper Cumberland counties came in as follows: Cumberland (3.9%), DeKalb (3.8%), Van Buren (3.8%), Pickett (3.6%), White (3.5%), Putnam (3.2%) and Overton (3.1%).

Statewide total nonfarm employment increases 3,700 jobs between August and September. The largest increases occurred in the leisure/hospitality sector, followed by the professional/business services, and other services sectors. 

Over the last year, nonfarm employment across Tennessee increased by 48,200 jobs. The leisure/hospitality sector experienced the largest increase, with the professional/business services, and manufacturing sectors seeing the next largest increases in new job.

Statewide, unemployment slightly increased last month to 3.5%, an uptick of 0.1 of a percentage point when compared to June’s statistic. The number of unemployed statewide rose by 4,949 to 117,181 while the labor force increased by 13,247 to 3,350,087.

The September seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the United States dropped to 3.5 percent, 0.2 of a percentage point lower than the August revised rate of 3.7 percent. The national rate for September is 0.2 of a percentage point lower than it was in 2018.

The statewide and national unemployment rate is seasonally adjusted to eliminate the influences of weather, holidays, the opening and closing of schools, and other recurring seasonal events from an economic time series.

Michelle Price is the managing editor of the Upper Cumberland Business Journal and can be reached via email. Send an email.

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