Unemployment rates dropped by a tenth of a percent for the month of February in Monroe County.

The rate fell from 4.3% to 4.2% from January to February.

State of Tennessee Statistical Analyst Patrick Todd stated last month that February and the ensuing months are typically either flat or the rate improves. However, the normal pattern isn’t likely with the coronavirus pandemic affecting many businesses.

“In a normal year you probably expect these rates to improve over the following months from January,” said Todd last month. “I’m not sure we are going to have a normal year this year.”

He expected to see potential signs of the current COVID-19 pandemic start affecting the rates for the month of March and thought that February’s rates might be too early to see an impact.

Unemployment claims have skyrocketed over the past month as the coronavirus pandemic has led to governments shutting down businesses and others scaling back operations to aid in stopping the spread of the disease.

According to The Associated Press, “more than 6.6 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week – doubling a record high set just one week earlier.”

The people affected by the coronavirus pandemic likely will start showing up in the March rates, Todd said.

“I think February might behave normally and March might get interesting,” he said last month.

The unemployment results were mixed across the state as 36 counties saw their rate decrease in February, 28 experienced a rate increase and 31 held steady.

That leaves the rate at less than 5% in 62 counties and between 5% and 10% in 33 counties. It’s not currently above 10% in any Tennessee county.

In the surrounding area, Blount County matched its January rate of 3.8%, Loudon County held the same with a rate of 3.8%, Polk County’s rate dropped by 0.1% from their previous rate to settle at 4.5% and McMinn County held a steady rate of 4.2%.

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