State figures show slight unemployment increase in January; Middle Tennessee remains strong

State figures show slight unemployment increase in January; Middle Tennessee remains strong

Unemployment rose slightly in Williamson County from December to January, but the county continued to have the state’s lowest unemployment rate.

In fact, the top five lowest unemployment counties in the state are all in Middle Tennessee: Williamson, 2.4%, Davidson, 2.6%, Rutherford, 2.7%, Cheatham, 2.8%, and Sumner, 2.8%. Each of those counties had an unemployment increase ranging from 0.3% (Davidson and Williamson), to 0.4% (Cheatham), to  0.5% (Rutherford and Sumner).

Maury County had a 3.1% unemployment rate, up from 2.6% in December.

Statistics released Thursday by the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development did not give or speculate on a reason for the uptick.

The state report showed 67 of the state’s 95 counties continued to experience unemployment rates below 5 percent during the first month of 2019.

The January unemployment rate is 5 percent or greater in the remaining 28 Tennessee counties.

“Many counties did experience an uptick in unemployment in January,” said TDLWD Commissioner Jeff McCord, “But when you look at a year-to-year comparison, the vast majority of Tennessee’s counties had lower unemployment this year compared to January of last year.”

Lake and Obion counties in the Northwest corner of Tennessee had the highest unemployment in January.

Lake County’s unemployment rate jumped 3.7 percentage points last month to 9.3 percent, the highest in the state.

Obion County more than doubled its unemployment rate in January to 8.8 percent, a 4.7 percentage point increase from December’s revised rate of 4.1 percent.

“The unemployment numbers in Lake and Obion counties have our attention,” McCord said. “We are meeting next week with our workforce development partners from across the state and we will have an opportunity to talk about any particular issues in the Northwest area that may have contributed to this spike in unemployment.”

For the last four months, Tennessee’s statewide seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has remained at its record low of 3.3 percent. Nationally, the January unemployment rate experienced a slight increase of 0.1 of a percentage point to 4.0 percent.

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