According to July numbers just out from the state, Knox County had the lowest unemployment rate of any major metropolitan county in the state last month. At 7.5 percent, the rate was down from 7.8 percent in June, and down a full point from 8.5 percent in July '09. The 7.5 percent compares favorably with 8.4 percent in Hamilton County (Chattanooga), 9.3 percent in Davidson County (Nashville), and 9.9 percent in Shelby County (Memphis).
Likewise, the Knoxville Metropolitan Statistical Area, which also includes Anderson, Blount, Loudon, and Union counties, had a combined rate of 7.7 percent, compared with 8.7 percent in Chattanooga's MSA, 8.8 percent in Nashville's, and 10.1 percent in Memphis'. The overall Tennessee rate for July was 9.8 percent, slightly higher than the national rate of 9.5 percent. (Though unlike the rest of these numbers, those two are seasonally adjusted; without seasonal adjustment, the national rate was 9.7 percent and the state rate was 9.6 percent.)
The bad news is that in Knox County, even an unemployment rate of 7.5 percent means an estimated 17,500 people out of work. In the metropolitan area, the number is about 28,500.
And if you're curious, the lowest rate in the state belonged to Lincoln County, down on the Alabama border, with an almost-healthy-sounding 6.4 percent. The highest rate, not surprisingly, was to our north in Scott County, on the Kentucky line. It had a walloping 19.4 percent rate. But at least it was down from 20.8 percent in June.