East Tennessee counties among hardest hit by pandemic-spurred job loss


Unemployment statistics for Tennessee counties released by state

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Unemployment data for the month of April released by the state Thursday shows some major increases from the previous month as the reopening effort of some businesses continues to ramp up in May.

Apart from the vociferous sharing of hardship experienced by hundreds of thousands due to job loss since the novel coronavirus pandemic arrived to the Volunteer State in March, data released Thursday by the state solidifies what was already known: a historic and unprecedented time of unemployment across Tennessee.

Overall, the state’s unemployment rate for April was 14.7% which was the same as the United States’ overall rate, when seasonally adjusted.

In a release that accompanied the data shared by the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, words such as “historic spike” and “staggering” are used to describe the harsh reality behind the cold numbers. Each of Tennessee’s 95 counties saw an increase in unemployment as businesses were closed in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

SEE ALSO: 26K+ new unemployment claims filed last week in Tennessee

The increase in unemployment impacted some counties differently than others.

East Tennessee’s Sevier and Cocke counties saw the highest and second-highest unemployment rate for the month of April.

According to the state’s data, Sevier County’s new jobless rate of 29.5% shows the staggering spike of 26 percentage points when compared to the county’s revised March rate of a mere 3.5%.

Cocke County’s jobless rate at 25.6% was a 20.9 percentage increase from the previous month.

For Knox County, the jobless rate was at 12.9% which was a percentage increase of 10.2 from March.

When comparing the jobless data of Tennessee’s three largest cities, Nashville had the highest unemployment rate in April: The city’s rate of 15.9% is a 13.5 percentage point increase over its revised March rate of 2.4%. Memphis recorded a rate of 14.3%, a spike of 10.1 percentage points from the previous month, and Knoxville’s April rate of 14.7% is an 11.8 percentage point jump.
The seasonally adjusted state unemployment rate of 14.7% surpassed the previous all-time high figure of 12.9% in January 1983.

MORE | Coronavirus Timeline: April 2020


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