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Top Regional News: Unemployment Rate Falls in Tennessee

Updated : August 4th, 2020

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 Counties Unemployment Rate Fall in Percentage
Bradley 2.8 percent down 0.7 percent
Hamilton 2.9 percent down 0.7 percent
Franklin 3 percent down 0.7 percent
Coffee 3.1 percent down 0.5 percent
McMinn 3.3 percent down 1.0 percent
Polk 3.5 percent down 0.9 percent
Van Buren 3.5 percent down 0.8 percent
Marion 3.6 percent down 0.9 percent
Sequatchie 3.7 percent down 0.8 percent
Meigs 3.9 percent down 0.8 percent
Grundy 4.1 percent down 0.7 percent
Bledsoe 4.5 percent down 1.2 percent
Rhea 5.1 percent down 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

Rank County Pre. Rate (%)
1 Williamson 2.6
2 Davidson 2.7
3 Rutherford 2.9
4 Wilson 2.9
5 Sumner 2.9
6 Moore 3.0
7 Maury 3.0
8 Cheatham 3.1
9 Lincoln 3.1
10 Giles 3.1

Counties with the Highest Unemployment in Tennessee

Rank County Pre. Rate (%)
95 Rhea 6.6
94 Lauderdale 6.0
93 Cocke 5.9
92 Jackson 5.8
91 Bledsoe 5.7
90 Houston 5.5
89 Hancock 5.5
88 Scott 5.5
87 Stewart 5.4
86 Obion 5.4

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. If I’m laid off and I go back to work for three or four weeks and get laid off again do I have to do the one week waiting period before I can collect again?

  2. I was informed by the automated phone system that my claim for last week 06/12/2021 was not processed due to an outstanding issue on said claim. I have tried for four days to reach a human to assist me in this matter. It’s been impossible! Please help.

    1. Anne,

      Wish we could do something for you. This is a private forum. Please continue following up regularly. You can perhaps write them an email.

  3. I am trying to request payments from aug 2015 up until 2017 I never received a debit card and just assumed that I was denied. So i did not request payment but would like to now

    1. Katrina,

      That period is past and you might not be able to claim retroactively. Please write the office an email if you wish to.

  4. Ive provided documents that were needed and i have not receive any type of response i have went without benefits for 6 weeks could someone please contact me

    1. Sondra,

      Please note this is a private forum and we do not have access to your claim. Please follow up with the office directly.

  5. To whom it may concern, Please what is wrong with the site to claim weeks? I am at the Career Source and they said it has been acting up for 2 days. I am frustrated so I can imagine how many others are like me. I was laid off 4/16/2021. My UI is showing active but still under review. Is there anything you need from me to get this going? I will give it to you. Please July rent coming up. I am tapped from asking from family to get me thru now. Please please please any answers for me? I am begging right now. I can not be late on rent or they will not renew my lease when it is time. I can not move, to costly. I have been here for 20 years. Please any suggestions. I will pay back July rent if my UI goes thru. No reason why it shouldn’t. Please help. Thanks again, Kay

    1. Kay,

      It must be a tough time for you. This is a private forum and we do not have access to your claim. Please chase the Office directly.

  6. I just filed for my first weeks benefit and am trying to change the payment method. It does not give me the verify who you are questions?

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