By Michelle Price
Special to the UCBJ
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.
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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|
|* All numbers in percentages|
|**Data are not seasonally adjusted|