Local unemployment inches up

By Michelle Price
Special to the UCBJ

NASHVILLE – For the second straight month, unemployment is up in every county in the state according to newly released July 2019 data from the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD).

Rate increases in the Upper Cumberland ranged from 0.2 to 1 percentage point over June numbers, with Pickett County having the most significant increase in unemployment.

Clay County’s unemployment increased by 0.8 percentage points to 8.1%, the highest unemployment rate in the Upper Cumberland. The county retained the second-highest jobless rate in the state behind Hancock County (8.2%) for the second straight month.

“Due to a variety of factors, it’s not unusual to see unemployment increase on the county level during the summer months,” said TDLWD Commissioner Jeff McCord. “We’ll continue to monitor these rates as we finish the summer and move into fall.”

Although the Upper Cumberland’s unemployment is up 0.4 percentage points from the previous month with a current rate of 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) had the lowest unemployment rates with Smith at 3.9% being the lowest in the Upper Cumberland, followed by Cannon at 4.2% and Macon at 4.3%.

The Upper Cumberland’s three distress counties had the highest unemployment in the region with Clay at 8.1% and Fentress and Jackson tied at 5.9%.

Other Upper Cumberland counties came in as follows: Van Buren (5.8%), Pickett (5.4%), Warren (5.4%), Cumberland (5.2%), DeKalb (5.2%), White (5%), Overton (4.9%) and Putnam (4.6%).

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 July unemployment rate for the United States remained unchanged in July at 3.7%.

County unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted, while both the state and national rates use the seasonal adjustment to eliminate outside influencers on the statistics.

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