BY RICH JONES
ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR
Greene County's unemployment rate increased ever so slightly in May to 9.6 percent from 9.5 percent in April, but the good news is that 990 more jobs were added to the employment rolls since the previous month.
The state's jobless rate in May increased to 7.9 percent from 7.7 percent the previous month.
Nationally, the unemployment rate in May was 8.2 percent, up slightly from 8.1 percent in April.
Greene County's unemployment rate a year ago, in May 2011, was 12.7 percent.
The latest statistics from the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, released on Thursday afternoon, show Greene County as having 27,650 persons employed in May, and 2,920 unemployed, in a total labor force of 30,570.
Greene County during April had 26,660 employed and 2,810 unemployed in a total labor force of 29,460.
That means there were 990 more persons employed in the county than in the previous month, according to the latest data.
There were 110 more persons unemployed in May than in April, according to the latest report.
In addition, the total work force in May increased by 1,110 persons from April.
"The most important number is [that] we added 990 jobs in Greene County last month. That's fantastic," said Tom Ferguson, president and CEO of the Greene County Partnership.
Ferguson said Thursday that the Partnership has recently assisted eight local companies with expansions that are in the works.
"Some of those [expansions] are kicking in," Ferguson said. "We're seeing hiring out there.
"We added about a thousand jobs last month, and the labor force grew by about a thousand people. It's good news overall," Ferguson said.
Here are the jobless rates in nearby East Tennessee counties in May, and the county-by-county change:
* Cocke County, 10.5 percent, up from 10.4 percent in April;
* Hamblen County, 9.3 percent, up from 8.8 percent in April;
* Hawkins County, 7.9 percent, up from 7.4 percent in April;
* Sevier County, 8.2 percent, up from 8.1 percent in April;
* Sullivan County, 6.8 percent, up from 6.3 percent in April;
* Unicoi County, 8.7 percent, unchanged from 8.7 percent in April, and
* Washington County, 6.8 percent, up from 6.3 percent in April.
The rate of 6.8 percent in both Sullivan and Washington counties placed them in a tie for the 9th-lowest unemployment rate in the state.
THE PAST YEAR
Here are the Greene County unemployment rates in each month for the past year, beginning with May 2012:
* 9.6 percent in May;
* 9.5 percent in April;
* 10.6 percent in March;
* 11.1 percent in February;
* 11.3 percent in January;
* 10.8 percent in December;
* 10.3 percent in November;
* 11.1 percent in October;
* 12.4 percent in September;
* 12.3 percent in August;
* 12.7 percent in July;
* 13.2 percent in June; and
* 12.7 percent in May.
Unemployment numbers for Greeneville and Greene County are counted together.
Here are the May unemployment rates in Greene County in recent years:
* 9.6 percent in May 2012;
* 12.7 percent in May 2011;
* 13.2 percent in May 2010; and
* 15.5 percent in May 2009.
STATE'S LARGEST CITIES
The May unemployment rates in Tennessee's largest cities were:
* Chattanooga, 8.3 percent, up from 7.8 percent in April;
* Knoxville, 7.0 percent, up from 6.7 percent in April;
* Memphis, 10.0 percent, up from 9.3 percent in April; and
* Nashville, 6.7 percent, up from 6.5 percent in April.
The May unemployment rates in nearby smaller cities were:
* Bristol, 6.6 percent, up from 6.1 percent in April;
* Johnson City, 7.2 percent, up from 6.4 percent in April;
* Kingsport, 7.6 percent, up from 7.2 percent in April; and
* Morristown, 10.2 percent, up from 10.1 percent in April.
HIGHEST AND LOWEST
Scott County, north of Knoxville and bordering Kentucky, had the state's highest county unemployment rate in May, at 15.9 percent.
Counties with the lowest unemployment were Williamson County, a suburb south of Nashville, and Lincoln County, south of Nashville and bordering Alabama, both with 5.4 percent in May.
Of the state's 95 counties, 87 showed an increase in unemployment during May, five counties were unchanged, and three counties -- Lincoln, Morgan and Union -- showed a decrease.
"We added about a thousand jobs last month, and the labor force grew by about a thousand people.
The most important number is we added 990 jobs in Greene County last month. That's fantastic.
"I just told the budget comm that we have assisted eight companies w epansions that are going on right now. Some are kicking in. We're seeing hiring out there.
There are a lot of people underemployed right now.
Key number of look at is how many are working. It's good news overall.