McMinn County Hits Record Unemployment

9 Jun 2016

McMinn hits record unemployment rate
Special to The DPA | Posted: Wednesday, June 8, 2016 11:00 am

McMinn County's unemployment rate is the lowest it has been since the Economic Development Authority (EDA) began recording local unemployment figures in 1970.

The April 2016 rate is 4.5 percent in McMinn County, below the national average of 5 percent. Prior to this, the lowest rate the EDA has on record is 4.6 percent in 1972, according to EDA Executive Director Kathy Price.

In the fall of 2015, it was reported that it was a record year for new jobs created in McMinn County, which recently garnered the national recognition for the EDA. The unemployment rate, which has dropped steadily throughout 2016, is a reflection of the successes the county has experienced in job growth.

"While the (Economic) Development Authority and community leaders strive for low unemployment rates, it also brings with it challenges for companies with open positions that need to be filled," Price said.

A recent job opening survey conducted by the EDA indicates there are currently more than 200 manufacturing job openings in the county, with more job announcements on the horizon. For this reason, the EDA is working with local training providers and community leaders on workforce development initiatives to educate students and the community on manufacturing careers and to develop a pipeline of "ready to work" individuals with the skills necessary to succeed in manufacturing careers.

"Economic development is changing to be able to undertake the challenges employers are facing with finding qualified employees to meet the demands of industry," Price said. "With a record low unemployment rate, we must balance the needs of our existing employers with our recruitment efforts. It is definitely a balancing act that we must carefully monitor."

McMinn County reached a high of 15.2 percent unemployment in June 2009 during the Great Recession, one of the highest unemployment rates in the state at the time.