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Joblessness continues to afflict much of rural Tennessee

In some counties unemployment is pushing 19 percent, according to recent state estimates.

With the exception of Shelby, Montgomery and Dickson Counties, unemployment in every county west of Nashville is meeting or surpassing the statewide rate of 10.5 percent. This time last year Tennessee-wide unemployment was 6.9 percent.

Writes's Andrea Zelinski:

While each western county struggles with unemployment, those home to larger population centers are faring better, although still significantly worse than the state rates from last year.

That isn’t to say times are flush for job-hunters in regions east of Nashville. Hancock County unemployment hit 18 percent and Scott County landed at 17.8 percent, and most other counties have unemployment rates in low teens or below.

...(S)tate Sen. Lowe Finney, a Jackson Democrat...said while he’s encouraged by the recent drop in the national unemployment rate, he says Tennesseans ought not to expect the picture to brighten anytime soon; the state’s employment numbers tend to lag six months behind.

“If other parts of the country experience good news, hopefully that means a few months from now, Tennessee will experience the same thing,” he said.

Senate Republican Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville, predicts it’ll take even longer than that before unemployment turns around.

A former chairman for the Council of State Governments’ Economic Development Committee for the Southern Legislative Conference, Norris says the stimulus hasn’t yet kicked in the way state officials expected, which he says means it’ll take still more time to see positive changes.