County's unemployment advances slightly in February

By Thomas Wilson

   The unemployment rate for Carter County increased slightly during February 2003, according to labor force estimates released Friday by the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
   The county's February unemployment level edged up 0.3 percent over January levels to 6.9 percent. Of a labor force of 26,930, Carter County has 25,070 listed as employed and 1,860 as unemployed. Those numbers do not include the closing of Inland Paperboard and Packaging in Elizabethton, which was announced March 21. The plant's closure will result in the loss of 130 jobs.
   One of six counties included in the Tri-Cities Metropolitan Service Area, Carter ranked fifth ahead of Unicoi County, which posted a 7.2 percent unemployment rate. Sullivan County had the lowest unemployment in the Tri-Cities MSA posting a 4.7 percent rate for the month.
   County unemployment rates released Friday showed that across the state, 18 county rates increased, 65 county rates decreased, and 12 remained the same from January rates.
   Moore County at 2.1 percent, unchanged over the month, registered the state's lowest county unemployment rate. Marshall County at 13.2 percent, down from 14.1 percent, reported the state's highest jobless rate.
   Knox County, unchanged at 2.7 percent, registered the lowest metropolitan county unemployment rate. Hamilton County registered 3.4 percent, down from 3.6 percent. Davidson County reported a 3.6 percent rate, down from 3.8 percent, while Shelby County reported a 4.9 percent rate, down from 5.4 percent over the month.
   Tennessee's February unemployment rate of 4.7 percent, unchanged over the previous month, was released on April 7, 2003. The U.S. unemployment rate for February was 5.8 percent at the seasonally adjusted level and 6.4 percent for the non-seasonally adjusted level rate.
   According to the department, January to February figures showed increases in government jobs of 8,500, with 7,500 of these in state and local educational services due to increases in the number of student workers and substitute teachers. Jobs in the leisure and hospitality industries grew by 2,400, and educational/health services employment rose by 2,400.
   From February 2002 to February 2003, state job losses in the manufacturing industry totaled 14,400, with durable goods down by 7,100 jobs, and nondurable goods decreasing by 7,300 jobs. Retail trade declined by 6,500 jobs and construction declined by 4,700 jobs. Transportation and warehousing jobs declined by 4,100.
   Tennessee's employment and unemployment statistics are based on two major surveys. The Current Population Survey (CPS) is a survey by place of residence providing estimates on the number of people in the labor force, total employment, unemployment, and the unemployment rate.
   From February 2002 to February 2003, health care and social assistance jobs in Tennessee increased by over 12,000, with increases in ambulatory health care (+4,300), hospitals (+3,800), nursing and residential care facilities (+2,800), and social assistance (+1,300). Professional and business services also added 12,200 jobs over the year.