Unemployment hits 24% for April

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Marshall County posted one of the highest unemployment jumps in the state for April.

The Tennessee Department of Labor released county unemployment numbers on Thursday afternoon, with the county rate recorded as 24%.

Marshall County ranked 90th out of the state’s 95 counties, with the unemployment rate increasing by 20.7% over the March revised rate of 3.3%.

The previous high was in June, 2009, at the height of the last recession, when the county posted the highest rate in the state at 20.1%.

Closures related to the COVID-19 pandemic, especially at auto assembly plants supplied by many of the county’s largest employers, fueled the spike as employees were furloughed or laid off outright.

“We had been bracing for the new unemployment report and it was as bad as expected,” said Lewisburg Director of Economic Development Greg Lowe.

“Along with Maury County, we were especially impacted by our manufacturing ties to the automotive industry and the shutdowns and furloughs that trickled down to some of our largest employers,” added Lowe. “We are beginning to see some of those companies return to work and then we will see the unemployment rate begin to trend downward.”

Maury County, also heavily dependant on the automotive sector, posted a 22% unemployment number for April.

Overall, the state unemployment rate for April jumped to 14.7%, up from 3.3% statewide in March.

Since March 15, the state has seen 558,621 new unemployment claims filed as of the last figures available on May 23.

Only three of the state’s 95 counties posted rates under ten percent. Fayette County in West Tennessee fared best with a 9.4% unemployment rate.

Sevier County, dependant on tourism in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Smoky Mountain National Park, posted the highest rate in the state at 29.5%.

Last year, when labor action closed the General Motors plant in Spring Hill, Marshall County employment went from 3.0% in September, 2019, to 5% in October, before settling back to 3.4% in November once the strike was resolved.

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