Nashville, TN (2017-06-23) The jobless rate in Scott County hit a 17-year low in May, dropping 1.3 percent over the month. While the rate is historically low, the workforce in the county has significantly shrank over the same period.
Scott County received an excellent job report in May, attaining a 4.2 percent unemployment rate for the month. The rate is the lowest seen in the county since May 2000, when the rate was 4.4 percent. Historically, the lowest-ever recorded rate in the modern era (1973-present) is 3.9 percent, which was reported in May 2001—when 350 people were without a job. In fact, the only other time fewer people were jobless in Scott County was between May and July of 1973, when 230 and 260 people were looking for work and the number of workers was 2,800 fewer than today.
While the number of jobless has reached historic lows, it has been an indirect result of a reduction in the local labor force. When the rate was 3.9 percent in May 2001, there were 8,970 people in the work force. Today, there are only 7,810—a difference of 1,160. The work force in Scott County peaked in November 1999, when there were 9,440 laborers. At the peak of the Great Recession, the work force in Scott County maintained more than 8,000 laborers; however, in 2013 and 2014, when extended benefits for unemployed workers ended, those numbers slipped to just more than 7,000. The work force numbers eventually rebounded, climbing above 8000 in January of 2015. Since then, the numbers have remained either just above or below that mark.
The jobless rate declined for most counties across the state, including all of those in east Tennessee. In Anderson County, the jobless rate went from 3.8 percent in April to 3.0 percent in May. Campbell County experienced a 1.3 percent reduction over the month, reporting a May rate of 4.0 percent. Fentress County’s jobless rate last month was 3.0 percent, a reduction of 0.9 percent. Morgan County saw the greatest reduction over the month, going from 5.2 percent to 3.8 percent. While slight, Pickett County also saw a 0.3 percentage decline over the month, reporting a May rate of 4.2 percent.
Scott County remained in the top ten counties with high unemployment in May, holding on to the last spot in the list. Rhea County, the only county reporting a rate greater than 5.0%, held the top spot at 5.1 percent. Hancock County was second at 4.8 percent. At 4.6 percent, Lauderdale County was third. Houston, Bledsoe and Jackson County all reported jobless rates of 4.5 percent and were ranked fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively. Wayne and McNairy County were seventh and eighth at 4.3 percent. Benton and Scott tied at 4.2 percent for the final two spots.
Davidson County has the state’s lowest major metropolitan rate at 2.1 percent, a decline from 2.7 percent during the prior month. Knox County’s rate is 2.5 percent, decreasing from April’s 3.1 percent. Hamilton County declined from its previous month’s rate of 3.6 to 2.9 percent while Shelby County has an unemployment rate of 3.5 percent, a decrease from 4.4 percent in April.