Stories, reasons behind Tennessee unemployment record

(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Tennessee reached a historic milestone last week that touches all of us.

Its unemployment rate hit an all-time low of 3.6 percent while just seven years ago nearly one in 10 Tennesseans were out of a job.

In county after county all over Tennessee, there are stories of people finding work after years of not having a job.

Back in 2009, Scott and Allison Kimble of Perry County shared their story with News 2.

“I have worked all my life,” Scott said one morning after driving his daughter to school in between job searching. “That is what I am used to. I am not used to not working.”

The Kimbles found themselves without jobs after a major car parts plant shutdown in Perry County.

Their 12-year-old daughter echoed fears of so many kids in this area where unemployment hit 27 percent.

“I wonder if we are going to have enough money for food or school clothes,” said Allison as she rode to school with Scott, who helped raise her.

Those days are long gone for the Kimble family and places like Perry County.

MORE: Tennessee unemployment rate at lowest in recorded history

The unemployment rate there is 3.6 percent, dropping over 20 points in a few years. NYX, another auto parts dealer, was recruited to Perry County and it put many back to work.

The Kimbles after a few years found jobs in different area plants that expanded after the 2009-2010 recession.

Their story is repeated for many in Tennessee where unemployment went from nearly 10 percent in 2010 to 3.6 percent in June 2017.

“It’s a statewide accomplishment,” said Governor Bill Haslam late last week when the numbers were announced.

While touting the unemployment accomplishment last week, the governor gave credit to mayors and economic development leaders in counties across the state.

He said they tell the story of business-friendly places mixed with an increasingly better educated workforce

“I think that is bearing out and I thinks its rewarding for a lot of folks,” added the governor. “This is not about Bill. This is about a whole lot of people who worked hard to make it happen.”

The last time the Tennessee unemployment rate set a record was in the year 2000 at 3.9 percent.

Rhea County had the highest unemployment rate at 5.1 percent. Suburban Williamson county just south of Nashville had the lowest at 2 percent.

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