The good is the jobless market dropped by one-tenth of 1 percent from the adjusted rate in August. It’s not much, but according to Larry Green, labor market analyst for the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, communities will gladly take any unemployment reduction.
The bad news is that although 9.5 is a slight drop, it is actually a full point higher than the mark in September 2010, which was 8.5 percent.
“In September, we had some small increases [in employment] in some industries and small decreases in others,” Green said. “We had a decrease in construction employment and also manufacturing was down a little bit.”
For the most part, Bradley County’s jobless pattern followed seasonal trends. If it continues to fall in line with expectations, employment in retail trade will increase based on temporary hiring for the holidays by area merchants. On the flip side, construction might slip as well as the category of hotels, motels and tourism (referred to as “Leisure and Hospitality”).
“We do have a small increase in retail trade right now which is good,” Green said. “If everything goes seasonal, retail trade should pick up in October, November and December. We’re hoping that’s a good sign.”
Other categories seeing slight upticks included temporary staffing services and education, the latter of which represents non-teaching staff returning to their positions with the reopening of schools.
Bradley County’s jobless numbers are faring better than the state’s which were reported at 9.8 for September, but not as good as the national mark of 9.1. The national rates for October were recently released, showing a 9 percent mark.
The local numbers put Bradley County in a three-way tie with Macon and Union counties for the 25th lowest rate across the state.
In Tennessee, unemployment rates went up in 51 counties, decreased in 32 and remained the same in 12. Statewide, 34 counties had rates ranging from 5 to 9.9 percent and 61 tallied figures of 10 percent or higher. No counties exceeded 20 percent.
The state’s highest rate was found in Scott County at 19.5 percent, followed by Obion County’s 17 percent. The lowest mark came in Lincoln County at 6.6 percent, followed by Williamson County, 6.9 percent.
With the exception of Hamilton County, a much larger job market whose rate was 8.6 percent, Bradley County’s jobless figures were less than its immediate neighbors. Area counties included Marion County, 10.7 percent; McMinn, 11.8; Meigs, 12.3; Monroe, 13.1; Polk, 12.0; and Rhea, 12.2.
Other lower jobless rates across the state came in Knox County, 7.7 percent; Moore, 7.9; Blount, 8.0; Sullivan, 8.1; Wilson, 8.2; Washington, 8.3; Loudon, 8.4; and Rutherford, 8.5.
Other higher unemployment marks were in Weakley County, 15.2 percent; Lauderdale, 14.2; Perry, 14.1; Marshall, 13.9; Pickett, 13.8; Gibson, 13.7; Dyer, 13.7; and Haywood, 13.5.
“We don’t predict the rates, but I can say this,” Green said. “Barring unforeseen layoffs in manufacturing or some unforeseen hiring, which we’d love to see, manufacturing is still a very important part of Bradley County.”
Green added, “If we stay within our seasonal trends, retail trade will move up some.” Slight drops can be expected in tourism and lodging, as well as construction.
Of the coming winter months, Green believes Bradley County’s jobless rate will remain near the 9.5 percent mark if seasonal trends follow their normal pattern.