Scott County unemployment rate drops to lowest in nearly 6 years

Scott County unemployment rate drops to lowest in nearly 6 years

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Scott County has the highest unemployment rate in Tennessee, but some leaders say at least it is a bit better than before. Scott County has the highest unemployment rate in Tennessee, but some leaders say at least it is a bit better than before.

By WHITNEY GOOD
6 News Reporter

ONEIDA (WATE) - Scott County has the highest unemployment rate in Tennessee, but some leaders say at least it is a bit better than before.

The county's unemployment rate had dropped to 12.5 percent in May..

"We've had high unemployment which affects a county like ours," said Jerry Lay.

Lay's family has owned Lay Furniture in Oneida for nearly 100 years, but says Scott County's economy has struggled more in recent years than ever before.

"You learn to operate a little leaner. You do everything you can to help your customers because your customers help you in the long run," he said.

The county's unemployment rate peaked in January of 2011 at 23.4 percent, and since then has held steady in the teens.

The unemployment rate dropped in May to its lowest in nearly six years at 12.5 percent, matching the rate of September 2008 when the numbers started to climb.

"When you look at why, well, you've got a number of things that have happened. The hospital is back open. There's another 100 people back to work right there. You've got Takahata that's over tripled in size from 70 something employees to almost 280 now, and hiring more," said County Mayor Jeff Tibbals.

They all agree while it is significant improvement, there is still a long road ahead to be where they want to be.

"We're not done. It's never a relief. I'd love to see single digit. We're at 12 and a half percent, which is still high unemployment compared to other counties in the state," said Mayor Tibbals.

Despite the drop, Scott County still tops the state list with the highest unemployment rate.

For many locals, it is all about adjusting to the current and hoping for the best.

"We are gradually seeing improvements and we're lucky that Scott Countians are as resilient as they are and can overcome a lot of obstacles," said Lay.

Scott County is one of five Tennessee counties that saw a lower unemployment rate in May.
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