BY DAVID FISHER
NASHVILLE – The latest jobless numbers show unemployment increased in each of Tennessee’s counties during December 2020, according to new data released by the Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD).
There were six counties with an unemployment rate of less than five percent in December, 88 counties had rates greater than or equal to 5 percent, and one county had a rate higher than 10 percent.
Statewide, unemployment increased in December. The preliminary, seasonally-adjusted rate for December came in at 6.4 percent, an increase of 1.2 percentage points from November’s revised rate of 5.2 percent
Nationally, unemployment held steady between November and December at 6.7 percent.
Weakley County’s unemployment rate of 5.8 percent for the month of December was 1.2 percent higher than it was in November, when unemployment registered 4.6 percent. It was 0.9 percent lower than the national rate of 6.7 percent, and 0.6 percent less than the state average of 6.4 percent. Out of a total countywide labor force of 16,172 workers, 15,234 Weakley Countians were employed and 938 were unemployed.
Carroll County’s jobless rate was 6.9 percent for December, which represents an increase of 1.4 percent from the previous month’s rate of 5.5 percent. It was .2 percent above the national rate and .5 percent higher than the state average. Out of a total countywide labor force of 12,520 workers, 11,656 were employed and 864 were unemployed.
Gibson County registered 6.6 percent unemployment for the month of December, which is 1.3 percent more than the previous month. The jobless rate was .1 percent lower than the national rate, and .2 percent higher than the state average. Out of a total countywide labor force of 22,867 workers, 21,349 were employed and 1,518 were unemployed.
Henry County recorded a jobless rate of seven percent for December, which is 1.7 percent above November’s rate of 5.3 percent. It was .3 percent higher than the national rate and .6 percent more than the state average. Out of a total countywide labor force of 14,374 workers, 13,367 were employed and 1,007 were unemployed.
At 7.3 percent, Obion County’s jobless rate for December increased by 1.6 percent from November’s rate of 5.7 percent. Unemployment was .6 percent more than the national average, and .9 percent above the state rate. Out of a total countywide labor force of 13,055 workers, 12,104 were employed and 951 were unemployed.
The Northwest Tennessee Economic and Community Development Region, which includes Benton, Carroll, Crockett, Dyer, Gibson, Henry, Lake, Obion and Weakley counties, registered an average unemployment rate of 6.7 percent for the month of December, which represents an increase of 1.4 percent above November’s rate of 5.3 percent.
At 5.8 percent, Weakley County had the lowest jobless numbers in the region. The Northwest Tennessee Economic and Community Development Region has a combined labor force of 112,034. Of this number, 104,481 were employed and 7,553 remained unemployed.
Unemployment across the state has fluctuated since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. It reached its all-time high of 15.5 percent in April 2020 and is currently just over 3 percentage points higher than the state’s pre-pandemic unemployment rate.
Total non-farm employment increased by 10,800 jobs between November and December. The trade/transportation/utilities sector added the largest number of jobs for the month. The professional/business services sector had the second-largest increase, followed by the manufacturing sector.
While employers did create new jobs in December, year-to-year statistics show the state still has a deficit when compared to December 2019. There were 100,300 fewer jobs in the state in December 2020. Tennessee’s leisure/hospitality industry has endured the most job loss during the pandemic. The manufacturing and government sectors have also been hit hard with job losses.
Tennessee employers are searching for employees to keep their businesses moving forward as the state’s economy continues to rebound. There are currently more than 230,000 open positions posted on the state’s workforce development website, Jobs4TN.gov.