In January, unemployment rates fell in 34 Tennessee counties, rose in 49 and stayed the same in 12. That was the picture presented in figures released by the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development on Thursday.
The news was best for Middle Tennessee. Of the ten lowest county unemployment rates in the state last month, nine were in Middle Tennessee. The only county in the top ten from outside that region was Knox, whose jobless rate clocked in at 5.5 percent. That was the second-best unemployment rate among Tennessee’s ten metropolitan areas. Economists generally consider a jobless rate of five to six percent ideal.
Unemployment in the five-county Knoxville metro area fell very slightly in January, to 5.9 percent. Statewide unemployment fell about half a percent last month, to 7.2 percent.