Most TN counties inch toward economic recovery; Memphis still hardest hit by unemployment

County-level July unemployment rates released by the Tennessee department of labor Thursday show that 75% of Tennessee counties are on the mend, albeit slowly.

Unemployment rates in the majority of Tennessee’s counties skyrocketed in April, with many counties’ rates surpassing unemployment rates during the 2008 financial crash.

But unemployment rate decreases from June to July in 72 of the state’s 95 counties offer small signs of progress toward economic recovery. Tennessee’s overall unemployment rate came in at an estimated 9.5% in July, slightly lower than June’s revised rate of 9.6%.

From June to July, the unemployment rate increased in 19 counties and remained the same in four counties.

Despite more than 75% of Tennessee’s counties seeing a decrease in unemployment during this time period, no county has yet to return to the state’s pre-pandemic average of 3.5%.

Pickett County had the state’s lowest unemployment rate in July at 6.3%. Shelby County had the highest at 14.4%.

Memphis saw the largest increase in unemployment rate of Tennessee cities with populations of 25,000 or more in July, growing by 1.6 percentage points to 16.9%. Other large Tennessee cities fared better: Nashville saw a 0.1 percentage point increase to 12.1%, and Knoxville maintained its 9.4% rate from last month, as did Chattanooga (11.1%) and Clarksville (11.2%).

By the numbers

Counties with the highest July unemployment rates

  • Shelby County: 14.4%
  • Haywood County: 12.7%
  • Hancock County: 12.5%
  • Davidson County: 12.1%
  • Lauderdale County and McNairy County: 11.6%

Counties with the largest increase in unemployment rate from June

  • Hancock County: 12.5% in July, up 1.8 percentage points from June
  • McNairy County: 11.6% in July, up 1.5 percentage points from June
  • Shelby County: 14.4% in July, up 1.3 percentage points from June
  • Hardeman County: 10.7% in July, up 1 percentage point from June
  • Haywood County: 12.7% in July, up 0.9 of a percentage point from June

Counties with the lowest July unemployment rates

  • Pickett County: 6.3%
  • Williamson County and Moore County: 6.4%
  • Overton County: 6.6%
  • Crockett County: 6.8%
  • Johnson County and Hickman County: 6.9%

Counties with the largest drop in unemployment rate from June

  • Marshall County: 9.9% in July, down 2.7 percentage points from June
  • Warren County: 9.9% in July, down 2.5 percentage points from June
  • Grundy County: 10.7% in July, down 2.2 percentage points from June
  • Franklin County: 8.1% in July, down 2 percentage points from June
  • Sevier County: 10.5% in July, down 1.9 percentage points from June

Reach Cassandra Stephenson at or at (731) 694-7261. Follow Cassandra on Twitter at @CStephenson731.


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