By Clint Confehr
Senior Staff Writer
Marshall County's unemployment rate dropped one half of one percent from November to December, according to state figures released last week.
"Our region has been experiencing slight and incremental job growth thanks to relocations and expansions, startups and new retail ventures," Lewisburg Economic Development Director Greg Lowe said.
The latest state figures show that 12.2 percent of the county's workforce was unemployed during December, reflecting a decrease from the November rate of 12.7 percent.
"It appears as though the economy as whole is trying very hard to recover and hopefully this trend of falling unemployment rates will continue," Lowe said.
Given the release date, the figures, obviously don't include the jobs filled by Christian Brands' hiring during the Goodwill Career Solutions Job Fair held Wednesday, Jan. 26, nor would it include jobs being lost at the Food Lion grocery that's closing here in Lewisburg.
Two days after the job fair, Mary Davis, 60, of Hill Street, was standing on the side of an access road in front of The Acres shopping center that includes the Goodwill store and its Career Solutions office.
"I need work," were the words written on a piece of corrugated cardboard that she held. "Please help."
"I can clean house, do yard work, paint," she said when asked about her sign and her abilities.
The last job she had was as a grill cook at the Midland restaurant in Maryville, Tenn., Davis said.
"I did hamburgers, steaks, shrimp, different kind of sandwiches," she said.
She said she submitted an application for work through the Goodwill.
Davis had not actually become a Goodwill client so a Career Solutions spokesman said that office could not provide a referral service, but her brother authorized use of his home phone number to receive calls for his sister. That number is 931-270-0336.
Asked to talk about what led her to stand by the road holding a sign, Davis replied, "Because I need to make money. My car broke down. My brother can only help me so much."
Davis lives with her brother, Marvin Hammonds, she said. She's also applied for work "at ... Wal-Mart and different kinds places."
Davis moved to Lewisburg because her brother offered her a place to live, she said.
In December, Marshall County had a labor force of 11,930 people. Of those, 10,470 had jobs and 1,460 were unemployed.
Meanwhile, the county's unemployment rate dropped three percentage points since December last year when the rate was 15.2 percent.
Nearby in Maury County, the December unemployment rate was 10.6 percent, down .5 percent from 11.1 percent in November. Maury's rate was 13.3 percent in December 2010, so it's dropped 2.7 percent in a year.
Bedford County's workforce of 22,690 people included 2,030 who were without jobs, reflecting an unemployment rate of 8.9 percent in December, down from 9.3 percent in November.
The December rates released by the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce development show that the rate decreased in 56 counties, increased in 27 counties, and remained the same in 12 counties.
Tennessee's unemployment rate for December fell to 8.7 percent, down from the November rate of 9.1. The national unemployment rate for December 2011 was 8.5 percent, a decrease of .2 percentage points from the November rate.
Williamson and Lincoln counties registered the state's lowest county unemployment rate at 5.4 percent. Both counties had higher rates in November with Williamson at 5.8 percent and Lincoln at 5.6 percent. Scott County had the state's highest unemployment rate at 18.8 percent, up from 17.5 percent in the previous month, followed by Obion County at 15.3, which was unchanged from the November rate.
Knox County had the state's lowest major metropolitan rate of 5.9 percent, down from 6.3 percent in November. Davidson County was 6.9 percent, down from 7.3 percent in the previous month. Hamilton County was 7.2 percent, down from 7.4 percent, and Shelby County was 8.8 percent, down from the November unemployment rate of 9.3 percent.