Unemployment Gap Wide Between Neighboring Counties

More Tenneseeans are back to work across the state, and here in our region as well. That's according to the latest statistics from Tennessee's Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

News 5 took a deeper look at Washington and Greene Counties. One is boasting one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state, while its neighbor is trailing farther behind.

With 11.1 percent of Greene County's workforce unemployed, business at John Prices's hot dog stand could be better. "If people are working, then they'll have a little more to spend, and of course, spend on hot dogs," said Price.

News 5 spoke with Greene County commissioner Robin Quillen who told us the recession hit Greene County's manufacturing economy especially hard. She also told us bringing in new businesses can be challenging. "There's been a lot of close-mindedness toward bringing in new factories [and] new people," said Quillen.

She said that's not the only problem. "There are times when we are trying to hire people and just simply put, there are people everywhere, not just in Greene County, but there are people everywhere who just choose not to work. It's just easier not to," Quillen explained.

But it's a different story right across the county line. Washington County, Tennessee boasts the state's fifth-lowest unemployment rate at 6.9 percent. So what's the difference?

"Our economy is a little more diverse, and we're not as dependent on the manufacturing sector that say, Greene County is," said Robert Reynolds, CEO of the Washington County, Tennessee Economic Development Council.

Along with retail and manufacturing growth, we found out education and healthcare are the two largest employers in Washington County; both of which are somewhat recession-proof. "Sometimes a recession entices people to go back and improve their education attainment levels," said Reynolds.

While Greene County may not boast the same numbers, we learned it's a work in progress. "We are going to have more opportunities for employment with the new US Nitrogen coming in, and I know that one of the companies coming on, J & J, [has] hired 30 to 40 more welders," said Quillen.

That's good news to those looking for that economic stimulus. "Let's bring the industries here. Let's put some people to work," Price said.

For more information on Washington County, Tennessee's unemployment rate, visit this website.

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