Scott County's unemployment rate continued its trend of improvement in March, dropping six-tenths of a percentage point to 6.8 percent, according to figures released last week by the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development.
With the latest period of decline, the local jobless rate is below 7.0 percent for just the fourth month since the onset of economic recession a decade ago.
However, Scott County has been in a similar position recently. The local unemployment rate improved throughout Spring 2016, dropping as low as 5.8 percent in May 2016. Later, the jobless rate climbed back to 9.5 percent, where it peaked in January.
In just two months, Scott County's unemployment rate has dropped some 2.7 percentage points. Most other counties across the state have likewise seen unemployment decreases, but most have not been as pronounced as Scott County's.
In March, the unemployment rate decreased in 91 Tennessee counties, just one month after the jobless rate decreased in all 95 counties across the state.
In the local region, the largest unemployment decrease from February to March was seen in Pickett County, where the jobless rate dropped by eight-tenths of a point to 6.3 percent. Fentress County's unemployment rate dropped six-tenths of a point to 5.4 percent. Campbell County saw its unemployment rate drop three-tenths of a percentage point to 7.0 percent. In Morgan County, the unemployment rate dropped two-tenths of a point to 6.1 percent. Anderson County was one of just three counties across the state with an increased unemployment rate in March, after the jobless rate there ticked up slightly from 5.0 percent to 5.1 percent.
Locally, the unemployment rate was based on an estimated work force of 7,910 workers, of which 7,380 were employed in March and 530 were without work. Those numbers represented an increase in employment of 80 jobs over February, when 7,300 Scott Countians were employed. The number of unemployed Scott Countians was down 50, from 580 in February.
The local jobless rate remained outside the state's top 10 for a second consecutive month. The highest unemployment rate in March was seen in Rhea County, where joblessness was at 8.8 percent. Cocke County followed closely behind, at 8.7 percent, with Sevier County checking in at 8.6 percent and Lake County following at 8.5 percent. Rounding out the state's 10 highest unemployment rates were Jackson County at 7.9 percent, Houston County at 7.8 percent, Hancock County at 7.7 percent, and Bledsoe, Lauderdale and Stewart counties, at 7.5 percent.
Williamson County continued to post the state's lowest unemployment rate, at 3.5 percent, followed by Davidson County at 3.6 percent and Rutherford County at 3.7 percent. Wilson, Sumner and Moore counties each posted jobless rates of 3.9 percent. Rounding out the 10 lowest unemployment rates were Maury County at 4.0 percent, Knox and Robertson counties at 4.1 percent, and Cheatham County at 4.2 percent.
Among metropolitan areas, Nashville continued to post the lowest unemployment rate, at 3.7 percent, down from 4.3 percent in February. Knoxville's unemployment rate was 4.7 percent, down from 5.4 percent, while Chattanooga's unemployment rate was 4.9 percent, down from 5.6 percent. Memphis posted an unemployment rate of 5.1 percent, down from 5.9 percent in February.