Unemployment Decreases in All Tennessee Counties
TENNESSEE (June 25) — Record-high unemployment rates recorded in counties across Tennessee in April experienced sizable decreases as the state slowly reopened in May 2020, according to preliminary data released by the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
All 95 of Tennessee’s counties had lower unemployment rates in May, compared to the number of individuals who did not work in April when many businesses closed to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
Even with marked improvement, 42 counties had unemployment rates greater than 5.0 percent, but less than 10 percent. Fifty-three counties, more than half of the counties in the state, had rates greater than 10 percent, but less than 20 percent.
After reporting the state’s second-lowest unemployment rate for April, Weakley County now has the lowest jobless rate in Tennessee. The county’s new rate of 7.0 percent for the month of May is 2.5 percentage points lower than it was in April. It was 6.3 percent lower than the national rate of 13.3 percent, and 4.3 percent less than the state average of 11.3 percent. Out of a total countywide labor force of 15,180 workers in Weakley County, 14,112 were employed and 1,068 were unemployed.
Sevier County continued to have the highest rate of unemployment in Tennessee. Still, the county’s new rate of 18.5 percent is a staggering drop of 10.6 percentage points from April’s record high of 29.1 percent.
The statewide unemployment statistic from May also decreased significantly. The new preliminary rate of 11.3 percent is down from the revised April rate of 15.5 percent.
Nationwide, unemployment decreased to 13.3 percent in May, down from the 14.7 percent rate recorded the month before.
In bordering counties, Gibson registered 9.0 percent unemployment for the month of May, which is 3.0 percent lower than the previous month’s rate.
At 7.7 percent, Obion County’s unemployment rate fell by 2.6 from April’s rate of 10.3 percent.
Carroll County’s unemployment rate was 9.7 percent, which is a reduction of 4.1 percent.
Henry County recorded a jobless rate of 9.7 percent. This is 4.9 percent less than the previous month’s rate.
The Northwest Tennessee Economic and Community Development Region, which includes the counties of: Benton, Carroll, Crockett, Dyer, Gibson, Henry, Lake, Obion and Weakley, registered an average of 9.1 percent unemployment for the month of May, which is a 3.4 percent decline from the previous month’s rate of 12.5 percent. This region of the state normally has the highest jobless rate in Tennessee, but it recorded the lowest unemployment rate of any of the regions of the state. The region has a combined labor force of 107,669. Of this number, 97,859 were employed and 9,810 remained unemployed.
Unlike the statewide rate, county unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted.
May unemployment numbers also dropped in each of Tennessee’s three largest cities. Knoxville had the most significant decrease with its rate changing from 14.7 percent in April to 10 percent in May. Nashville experienced the second biggest decrease with unemployment dropping from 16.1 percent in April to 12.6 percent in May, a difference of 3.5 percentage points. Memphis recorded a rate of 13.2 percent, down 1.3 percentage points from April’s rate.
Tennessee employers added 93,900 non-farm jobs between April and May. Leisure/hospitality, manufacturing, and other services sectors had the biggest month-to-month increases.
While the state gained new jobs in May, there was a significant drop in the year-to-year comparison of job numbers. Tennessee lost 265,800 jobs between May 2019 and May 2020. The impact of the COVID-19 closures impacted the leisure/hospitality sector the most, followed by the manufacturing and professional/business services sectors.
Since March, Tennessee has experienced a historic surge in unemployment due to businesses closing to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
A total of 294,263 unemployment claims were paid out as of June 25, 2020. This amounts to $298,597,211, which is funded by the federal government’s Coronavirus Relief Fund.