It was a given that Scott County’s unemployment rate would increase in June, and it did — up more than one and a half percentage points, to 5.8 percent.
But the news was not all bad with June’s new round of jobless data, as indicators of an improving local economy remained.
All of Tennessee’s 95 counties experienced increased unemployment rates in June, as the end of seasonal jobs coincided with an influx of new workers entering the labor force.
“We’ve seen this type of increase in the June county unemployment rates every year since the state started keeping records in 1976,” said Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development Commissioner Burns Phillips.
Phillips went on to explain that the county rate takes into account seasonal workers who are temporarily out of work; statewide, education service jobs were down by 35,100. June is also the month when recent high school and college graduates enter the workforce and have yet to find employment.
The last time Scott County’s unemployment rate did not increase between May and June was 1998.
“These figures most likely raised a few eyebrows when people first saw them, because May was such a stellar month in Tennessee,” Phillips said. “But I looked at the county numbers for June 2016 and rates were significantly higher than they are today. So even with this current up-tick between May and June, Tennessee is still in far better shape than a year ago.”
In June 2016, Scott County’s jobless rate was 8.0 percent, better than two points higher than the current rate. In fact, the June 2017 jobless rate of 5.8 percent marks Scott County’s lowest June unemployment rate since 2000. That year, the June unemployment rate was 5.4 percent.
Despite the increased unemployment rate, Scott County fell off the state’s chart of counties with the 10 highest unemployment rates, which was topped by Rhea County’s 7.3 percent jobless rate. Unicoi County had the state’s 10th-highest unemployment rate, at 5.9 percent.
According to the state’s numbers, there were only 10 fewer Scott Countians working in June than in May, with 7,470 listed as employed during the month. That likely means additional jobs were added between May and June, once seasonal workers such as bus drivers and cafeteria staff are accounted for.
Scott County’s estimated work force increased from 7,810 in May to 7,930 in June, while the number of unemployed Scott Countians increased from 330 to 460.
Among neighboring counties, Anderson County continued to show the way with the best unemployment picture, posting a 4.6 percent jobless rate in June, followed by Pickett County at 5.0 percent. Fentress County’s unemployment rate was 5.2 percent, while Morgan and Campbell counties each posted jobless rates of 5.5 percent in June.
The state’s lowest unemployment rate was in Davidson County, at 3.1 percent, followed closely by Williamson County at 3.2 percent. Rounding out the five lowest unemployment rates were Wilson County at 3.3 percent, and Sumner, Cheatham and Rutherford counties at 3.4 percent. Also in the Top 10 were Sevier County, at 3.5 percent, and Dickson, Maury and Knox counties, at 3.7 percent.
Among metropolitan areas, Nashville had a June unemployment rate of 3.4 percent, while Knoxville was at 4.1 percent, Chattanooga was at 4.7 percent and Memphis was at 4.9 percent.