Monroe County showed a significant decrease in unemployment compared to neighboring counties for the month of July.

According to the State of Tennessee, the rate dropped from 9.9% to 8.8% across the county. State of Tennessee Statistical Analyst Patrick Todd stated Monroe County was the “outlier” compared to the rest of the state.

“Statewide there wasn’t a whole lot of movement,” said Todd. “I think the rest just inched down the state rate but most of the counties are like that.”

He believes the biggest reason behind the large decrease is due to people dropping out of the labor force.

“It looks like a pretty substantial labor force decrease of 300 people and that has sort of been the trend,” he said. “I have been looking over the year and just about every county in the state has had a pretty big drop in their labor force over the year.”

He thinks the “wave of openings” for businesses has slowed, lessening the growth in jobs.

“I don’t really have expectations these days from month to month given how unprecedented this is so we have to kind of wait and see how it is every month,” Todd stated. “Overall I wouldn’t expect any quick improvement. We had record low rates here six months ago and we are not going to be getting back to those anytime soon, I don’t think.”

He believes the rate may continue to slowly drop with the August numbers.

“You may get a little bit with school employment, though that has been a little different this year,” Todd noted. “A typical August you get all of the schools return so we will see how that shakes out.”

The November rates hold some promise of potentially seeing improvement due to seasonal jobs as the Christmas season approaches.

In July the State of Tennessee also saw a small decrease from a rate of 10.1% to 9.9%.

Around the area in July, the rate dropped 0.6% to 8% in Blount County, decreased 0.2% to 7.7% in Loudon County, declined 0.4% to 9.4% in McMinn County, and fell 0.4% to 7.9% in Polk County.

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