Employment in UC rebounds faster than state, nation

By Michelle Price
UCBJ Managing Editor

UPPER CUMBERLAND – It’s rare that the Upper Cumberland has a lower unemployment rate than both the state and nation, but employment in the region is rebounding at a much quicker rate than the rest of the country. Pickett County is leading the state with a rate of 6.3%, and three U.C. counties follow in the top 10 counties statewide.

July was the third consecutive month that the region had a lower rate than the state or nation. The July unemployment rate in the U.C. was 8.4%, compared to 9.9% in the state and 10.5% in the nation. 

Many businesses were forced to close due to COVID and the U.C.’s unemployment rate jumped from 3.7% in March to 15.8% in April. The rate has dropped steadily since to 10.5% in May, 9.1% in June and finally 8.4% in July, with almost half (7.4%) of the total unemployed returning to work. 

Related story: UC sales tax increase more than doubles state levels

Pickett County, usually among the highest in unemployed, has the lowest unemployment statewide at 6.3%, down 0.7 percentage points from June’s rate of 7.0% and just slightly above the 5.0% rate the county had in July 2019.

Overton (6.6%), Smith (7.1%) and Cannon (7.4%) counties were also in the Top 10 lowest rates statewide. DeKalb remains the only county in the region with an unemployment rate in the double digits at 10.3%.

The largest drop in unemployment was in Warren County, dropping 2.5 percentage points from a rate of 12.4% down to 9.9%, matching Tennessee’s unemployment rate statewide. Warren’s rate has dropped sharply since April when over a quarter (25.1%) of its workforce was unemployed or furloughed.

Among the biggest drops in unemployment were Cannon, dropping 1.5 percentage points to 7.4%; Van Buren, dropping 1.3 percentage points to 9.7%; and DeKalb, dropping 1.2 percentage points to 10.3%. 

Other rates across the region include Clay 9.2%, Cumberland 8.7%, Fentress 7.6%, Jackson 9.6%, Macon 8.3%, Putnam 8.0%, Smith 7.1% and White 8.3%.

Unemployment Rate Trends
Counties7/206/205/204/203/20
Cannon7.48.911.915.92.8
Clay9.29.69.613.76.2
Cumberland8.79.28.612.74.8
DeKalb10.311.515.722.14.0
Fentress7.68.06.99.94.0
Jackson9.69.910.916.94.5
Macon8.38.59.813.83.00
Overton6.67.38.713.53.8
Pickett6.37.07.710.54.0
Putnam8.08.49.014.53.1
Smith7.17.810.014.23.1
Van Buren9.711.012.220.04.7
Warren 9.912.417.025.13.9
White8.38.610.316.73.6
UC8.49.110.515.83.7
TN9.910.110.715.03.2
USA10.511.213.014.44.5
* All numbers in percentages
**Data are not seasonally adjusted

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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