Despite an improvement of more than six percentage points, Perry County had the fifth highest unemployment rate in the state for May, the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development announced this week.

Perry County’s jobless rate for May was 17.1%, down 6.1 points from April when one in four people was without work due in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic.

With a labor force numbered at 2,923, the rate translated to 501 residents out of work.

Perry was the only county among its neighbors to make the highest jobless rate list. In the immediate area: Benton, 10.3; Decatur, 11.8; Hickman, 8.7; Humphreys, 7.9; Lewis, 13.1; and Wayne, 9.6.

Record-high unemployment rates recorded in counties across Tennessee in April experienced sizable decreases as the state slowly reopened in May 2020.

All ninety-five of Tennessee’s counties had lower unemployment rates in May, compared to the number of individuals who could not work in April when many businesses closed in order to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Even with marked improvement, forty-two counties had unemployment rates greater than 5%, but less than 10%.

Fifty-three counties, more than half of the counties in the state, had rates greater than 10%, but less than 20%.

Weakley County had Tennessee’s lowest unemployment rate in May. The county’s new rate of 7% is 2.5 percentage points lower than it was in April.

Fentress County had the second-lowest figure in May at 7.1%, down from 9.9% the month before.

Williamson County’s unemployment rate was the third-lowest statewide. At 7.4%, the rate is down 3.1 percentage points from the county’s all-time high of 10.5% recorded in April.

Sevier County continued to have the highest rate of unemployment in Tennessee. Still, the county’s new rate of 18.5% is a staggering drop of 10.6 percentage points from April’s record high of 29.1%.

At 17.6%, Warren County recorded the second-highest unemployment rate in May, down 7.5 percentage points from April’s rate.

Marshall County had the third-highest rate for the month with a rate of 17.5%, a decrease of 6.6 percentage points from the previous month’s rate. Grundy County, at 17.4, was fourth highest.

Rounding out the top ten worst jobless rates: Cocke, 16.3; DeKalb, 16.3; Maury, 15.8; Franklin, 14.3; and Coffee, 14.2.

May unemployment numbers dropped in each of Tennessee’s three largest cities. Knoxville had the most significant decrease with its rate changing from 14.7% in April to 10% in May.

Nashville experienced the second biggest decrease with unemployment dropping from 16.1% in April to 12.6% in May, a difference of 3.5 percentage points.

Memphis recorded a rate of 13.2%, down 1.3 percentage points from April’s rate.

The statewide unemployment statistic from May also decreased significantly. The new preliminary rate of 11.3% is down from the revised April rate of 15.5%.

Nationwide, unemployment decreased to 13.3% in May, down from the 14.7% rate recorded the month before.

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