Top Regional News: Unemployment Rate Falls in Tennessee

Author : Steven De Nazareth

Updated : June 12th, 2019

Tennessee was the 16th state in 1796 and is today bordered by eight states and the Mississippi River. Also known as the Volunteer State, it is home to over 6.6 million people and has its capital in Nashville. Other counties with large populations include Memphis, Knoxville, Chattanooga, and Clarksville. The median household income is $47,275 which is slightly lower than the national average. On the other hand, the poverty rate is at 16.7% which is 10% higher than the US rate.


Tennessee’s jobless rate is well below the comparable US rate of 4.2% and lower than Georgia’s 4.5% rate in September 2017. This is the lowest monthly rate in Tennessee since the US Bureau of Labor Statistics started tracking information since January 1976. The best takeaway is that unemployment is down nearly 2 percentage points from last year.

The average weekly earnings for manufacturing workers in Tennessee has grown from $11.51 to $830.19 since August. Though Tennessee factory workers got sizable increases in their paychecks than the nationwide average gain of $2.53 per week. Tennessee’s manufacturing wages since August was lesser than the US average at 5.7%.

Chattanooga’s unemployment fell to its lowest level in 16 years since August as employers in the six-county region added nearly 7,800 jobs since last year. The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development express that the jobless rate in May fell by half a percentage point to 3.3%. This is the lowest that it has been since May 2001. Employment has grown 3.2% in the past year in Chattanooga and added 7,793 net new jobs in the region. This has enabled Tennessee to have a jobless rate of 4.1% which is down by 0.2% and below the US unemployment rate of 4.7% which was indicated last month and noted as the lowest since April 2001.

Unemployment Down Across All Tennessee Counties

Name of CountiesUnemployment RateFall in Percentage
Bradley2.8 percentdown 0.7 percent
Hamilton2.9 percentdown 0.7 percent
Franklin3 percentdown 0.7 percent
Coffee3.1 percentdown 0.5 percent
McMinn3.3 percentdown 1.0 percent
Polk3.5 percentdown 0.9 percent
Van Buren3.5 percentdown 0.8 percent
Marion3.6 percentdown 0.9 percent
Sequatchie3.7 percentdown 0.8 percent
Meigs3.9 percentdown 0.8 percent
Grundy4.1 percentdown 0.7 percent
Bledsoe4.5 percentdown 1.2 percent
Rhea5.1 percentdown 1.5 percent

Source: Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development

Across all 95 counties in Tennessee, unemployment rate since April 2017 has decreased. These results were published by the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Last year, eight counties had an unemployment rate of above 6% but since April 2017 the entire state has reached a formidable level. TDLWD Commissioner Burns Phillips expressed that there was still work to be done to ensure that Tennessee is putting people to work.

Top 10 Counties with the Lowest Unemployment Rate

RankCountyPre. Rate (%)

Counties with the Highest Unemployment in Tennessee

RankCounty Pre. Rate (%)

Comparison from 2008 Economic Turmoil

The 2008 Economic turmoil had serious repercussions in America. Employment in the US peaked till February 2008. After which employment continued to see a free fall nationally until February 2010 where there was a slow recovery. The decline, however, ended earlier in Tennessee during mid-2009 and this continued to bottom out for close to a year before the consistent recovery in April 2010. This recovery was a whole two months later than the national recovery. Even after 5 years since the recession by December 2012, US employment was still at 2.4% less than the previous peak and Tennessee was 2.5% less. Construction employment did not bottom out in 2008 in Tennessee but only did two years later. Though construction has seen some improvement, it would take another four to five years to return to its previous peak.Unlike other recoveries, there is a slow recovery in this sector. Employment in the information sector has been falling since 2001. Hiring was flat from 2003 to 2007 and the recession sent it into further decline. Employment in IT has declined by 17.3% in Tennessee since the early 2008 peak as compared to the national 12%. The information industry includes publishing industries, software publishing, motion picture and sound recording industries, broadcasting and telecommunications industries, information services and data processing industries.

Though employment has remained stable in the US and seen a significant dip in the jobless rate, Tennessee has remained strong and unemployment levels have dropped significantly. If you are still unemployed then you can try the Benefits Calculator to figure out the benefits that you are eligible for.

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  1. I am in a unique situation. I would like to know if even though I work for a church that does not pay into unemployment, I have only been here a year and my job previous did pay into unemployment. Would I be eligible for unemployment benefits if I were laid off? This is in the state of Nevada. If so, how long do I have before that is NOT the case? In other words, I know that benefits usually go back 18 months. Would it be the same in this case?

    1. Leslee,

      As much as I am aware, church employees do not qualify to receive UI benefits. Please call the Unemployment Office for clarification.

  2. The unemployment office in Nevada doesn’t answer the phone. They have a recording that says they only take new claims on Monday, and Tuesday, from 8am to 4pm. But if you call at 8am, they tell you that the “Que is already full for the day.” How can that be possible if they don’t start accepting calls until 8am? No wonder unemployment in the United States is DOWN! They don’t accept phone calls after they tell you online that you “have to call to confirm your information” and then they don’t take the calls.

  3. I have called as soon as they open and they just say please call on the next business day I DID and you still didn’t answer

  4. Could you please provide a reference for the following statement in your article – please see below. Thanks.
    “You may also be qualified for unemployment benefits if:
    …You entered Commission-Approved Training and the job is not considered suitable under Section 20 relating to your availability for work, active search for work or refusal to accept suitable work”.

  5. If I exhausted all my benefits last year 2019 and my new benefit year starts back up in Jan. 2020 can I reapply? I still should have money in other quarters from my previous job.

    1. Yvette,

      The E.U.C(Emergency Unemployment Compensation) remains expired. There is no extension available. Please inquire further with the labor authorities in your state by calling them.

  6. Can i receive unemployment if my car broke down and i couldnt work cause i work outta my car and i couldnt afford to get it fixed so i ended up not working there anymore cause the car situation

    1. Willie,

      I can understand your situation. However, I am not sure if you can claim for voluntary reasons. Please call the Unemployment Office for clarification.

      1. Hello,

        I have been unemployed since this past July. My regular unemployment benefits are running out. Can I apply for Emergency Unemployment Benefits after this claim expires? What can I do?

        Thank you,D. ANDERSON

  7. I filed my first bi-weekly claim today but it only took my first week. Are there only certain weeks I can file 2 weeks worth of unemployment?

    1. How strict are they on the school program being less than 2 years for CTB training extension? I have an interview next week for a Training Extension. I started school this week, I am set to finish just a few months over the 2 year mark. Finishing in May 2022.

  8. What if it’s an employer that is threatening over it being personal home life and nothing to do with work or the work place??

    1. Kelly,

      You can be eligible to claim if you resign due to hostile working conditions. Please make sure to check with the Unemployment Office before making a decision.

        1. Paula,

          A copy should be available on the department’s website. You will be able to download after logging in.

  9. I finally start new job on Monday. My work hours are 6;30-6:30pm.
    How can I file my last two weeks if I’m working

    Can I. Call Tuesday? What number?

      1. Hello, I live in the state of Pennsylvania, for reference. I was told on 1/9/2020 I am being let go because of financial issues my employer and office is having. With that, my employer said I can work for the next two weeks to give me time to find another job and if circumstances change they will call me back to work. My question is, Where do I go to figure out my quarter dollar amount earnings for my highest 4 out of 5 quarters. I’ve been with this employer for 7 months, started June 2019. Before that I was unemployed for 5 months and before that I was employed for years up until Feb 2019.

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