The unemployment rate continued to see a decline for the month of February in Monroe County.

According to the State of Tennessee, the unemployment rate in Monroe County for the month of February was 4.4%, which is 0.6% decrease from the previous month’s rate of 5%.

State of Tennessee Statistical Analyst Patrick Todd stated the numbers have decreased across the state.

“For February, this is expected,” Todd said. “Last month was a little unexpected. Typically January is your highest rate so you usually expect to see it decrease from the spike in January.”

He noted the rate for February was just a little higher this year than it was in February of 2020, which had a rate of 4.1%.

“I believe this is a good sign given the pandemic,” Todd said. “We are doing better and are down to the low single digits, so I think this is a good sign.”

He noted that most counties have seen a labor force decline.

“That sort of helps drop the rate down but it is not necessarily a good thing,” Todd noted. “All that said though, this is definitely an improvement.”

He hopes the rates for the month of March will continue to follow the current trend of lowering.

“If you can get through the spring it typically shows a downward trajectory,” he noted. “Who knows exactly what kind of fluctuation we could have, but most of the time we see the rate drop.”

In the surrounding area McMinn County dropped by 0.2% for a rate of 5%, Blount County decreased by 0.2% for a rate of 4.4%, Loudon County fell by 0.1% for a rate of 4.2% and Polk County dropped 0.2% for a rate of 5%.

Across the nation, the rate slid down 0.2% to 6.6% and the state rate lowered half a percent to 4.9%.

The rate fell 90 counties, while rising in four and staying the same in one. That leaves the rate below 5% in 39 counties, between 5% and 10% in 56 counties and above 10% in none.

The counties to see their rate rise in February were White County (0.2% to 4.9%, Overton County (0.2% to 5.3%, Lake County (0.3% to 8.6%) and DeKalb County (0.1% to 5.5%).

Smith County held steady at 4%.

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