The figures were part of a report released Thursday, as Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Burns Phillips announced unemployment rates across the state had dropped in all 95 counties to 5 percent or less.
Tennessee’s average unemployment rate for April stood at 2.9 percent, while the national average was 3.7 percent.
Washington County’s unemployment rate fell to 2.8 percent, below the state’s average. In March, that number was 3.5 percent. In Sullivan County, unemployment fell from 3.7 percent to 3 percent, Carter County fell from 4.1 to 3.4 percent and Unicoi County’s unemployment fell from 4.9 percent to 3.9 percent.
In March, Johnson City and Kingsport-Bristol’s metro numbers stood at 3.8 percent unemployment; both of these areas now have a 3 percent unemployment rate, according to the department’s official statistics.
The official figures did not, however, cite how rates of underemployment play into the figures, but East Tennessee State University business professor Jon Smith said it's hard to see a downside to the numbers.
“When you start getting unemployment rates as low as they are now, that’s an enormously good sign. It means the people who are underemployed could now have opportunities to get better jobs,” Smith said.
While Haslam said “low unemployment rates in each county is great news for every Tennessean,” Smith said it does present problems for some employers.
“What it tends to indicate is that there’s a lot of jobs out there that need to be filled,” Smith said. “There is a lot of demand for high skill jobs that they just can’t fill. But nevertheless, 3 percent unemployment is unbelievably low.”
Some areas of the state, such as Williamson County, have numbers as low as 2 percent unemployment, according to the state’s figures. Davidson County had the second-lowest unemployment rate in the state at 2.1 percent, down half a percentage point from March.
The 10 counties with the lowest unemployment in Tennessee each have a rate at or below 2.5 percent.
“To see continued low unemployment in our metro areas is great,” Phillips said in a news release. “But the decreases we are seeing in our rural and distressed counties show there are new job opportunities statewide.”
To take a look at the entire state’s unemployment statistics, visit www.tn.gov.
||March unemployment percentage
|Johnson City MSA