Scott County's unemployment rate increased sharply in December, from 7.5 percent to 8.6 percent, according to new numbers released last week by the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development.
The new round of data showed that Scott County's total employment dipped by more than 100 jobs in December. According to the state's data, there were 7,170 people employed in Scott County in December, compared with 7,280 in November. Total unemployment stood at 670, with an estimated local work force of 7,840.
Scott County was not alone. Higher unemployment rates were reported in all 95 of Tennessee's counties in December.
However, the increase left Scott County in familiar but unwelcome territory — on the verge of having the state's highest unemployment rate.
After the latest adjustments, Scott County has the state's third-highest unemployment rate, trailing Lake County at 10.2 percent and Rhea County at 9.0 percent.
Scott County was followed by Lauderdale County, with an unemployment rate of 7.8 percent, and Cocke, Hancock and Obion counties, each of which reported unemployment rates of 7.7 percent. Rounding out the 10 highest unemployment rates in December were Bledsoe and McNairy counties at 7.6 percent, and Clay County at 7.4 percent.
Williamson County continued to show the way with the state's lowest unemployment rate in December, at 3.5 percent, followed closely by Davidson County at 3.6 percent and Rutherford County at 3.7 percent. Rounding out the five lowest unemployment rates were Sumner and Wilson counties, at 3.9 percent. Other counties that were among the state's 10 lowest unemployment rates in December included Cheatham County at 4.0 percent, Knox and Maury counties at 4.1 percent, and Bradley and Moore counties at 4.2 percent.
Among neighboring counties, Pickett County experienced the largest unemployment rate increase, jumping 1.2 percentage points to 7.2 percent. Campbell County's unemployment rate jumped eight-tenths of a point, to 7.2 percent, while Morgan County's jobless rate jumped six-tenths of a point, to 6.6 percent.
Lesser rate increases were seen in Fentress and Anderson counties, which saw jobless rate increases of three-tenths and two-tenths of a point, respectively, to 6.0 and 5.0 percent.
Among the state's major metropolitan areas, Nashville continued to show the way with a 3.6-percent unemployment rate. Knoxville's unemployment rate was 4.3 percent, followed by Chattanooga's 4.8 percent and Memphis's 5.0 percent.