BY RICH JONES
ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR
Greene County's unemployment rate improved substantially in September, dropping to 10.0 percent from 10.8 percent the previous month.
The local jobless rate followed a statewide trend in which all but one of Tennessee's 95 counties had lower unemployment rates in September than in August, according to the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development.
The department's monthly report was released on Thursday.
Statewide, the September jobless rate was 8.3 percent, down from 8.5 percent in August.
The U.S. unemployment rate in September was 7.8 percent, down from 8.1 percent in August.
Seven nearby counties -- Cocke, Hamblen, Hawkins, Sevier, Sullivan, Unicoi and Washington -- also posted improved unemployment numbers.
Greene County's unemployment rate has been in double-digits in all but two months since December 2008. Those two months were April and May of this year.
Greene County's unemployment rate a year ago, in September 2011, was 12.4 percent.
"If we can believe the numbers, then we've made some improvement," said Tom Ferguson, president and CEO of the Greene County Partnership.
"We do have some companies trending in the right direction," Ferguson added. "Clearly, most everything in our automotive sector has been on the uptick in the last six to 12 months."
Ferguson also stated that "four or five" of the county's larger companies are currently hiring.
The Greene County Partnership is also coordinating an announcement with a local company that would hire about 100 additional people, Ferguson said on Thursday afternoon.
Ferguson cautioned, however, that smaller businesses, those hiring 10 to 15 employees, or fewer, continue to struggle with the sluggish economy.
The latest statistics report Greene County as having 27,640 persons employed in September, and 3,070 unemployed, in a total labor force of 30,710.
Greene County during August had 27,250 employed and 3,380 unemployed in a total labor force of 30,630.
That means there were 390 more persons employed in the county during September than in the previous month, according to the latest data.
There were 310 fewer persons unemployed in September than in August, according to the latest report.
The total work force in September, employed and unemployed combined, increased by 80 persons.
Here are the jobless rates in nearby East Tennessee counties in September, and the county-by-county change in those counties:
* Cocke County, 10.1 percent, down from 10.7 percent in August;
* Hamblen County, 9.5 percent, down from 9.8 percent in August;
* Hawkins County, 7.6 percent, down from 7.8 percent in August;
* Sevier County, 7.3 percent, down from 7.9 percent in August;
* Sullivan County, 6.4 percent, down from 7.0 percent in August;
* Unicoi County, 8.6 percent, down from 9.5 percent in August, and
* Washington County, 6.4 percent, down from 7.2 percent in August.
THE PAST YEAR
Here are the Greene County unemployment rates in each month for the past year, beginning with September, 2012:
* 10.0 percent in September;
* 11.0 percent in August;
* 11.6 percent in July;
* 11.3 percent in June;
* 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 2011;
* 10.3 percent in November 2011;
* 11.1 percent in October 2011; and
* 12.4 percent in September 2011.
Unemployment numbers for Greeneville and Greene County are counted together.
Here are the September unemployment rates in Greene County in recent years:
* 10.0 percent in September 2012;
* 12.4 percent in September 2011;
* 12.4 percent in September 2010;
* 14.3 percent in September 2009; and
* 9.4 percent in September 2008.
STATE'S LARGEST CITIES
The September unemployment rates in Tennessee's largest cities were:
* Chattanooga, 7.1 percent, down from 7.8 percent in August;
* Knoxville, 6.2 percent, down from 6.9 percent in August;
* Memphis, 8.4 percent, down from 8.9 percent in August; and
* Nashville, 6.4 percent, down from 7.2 percent in August.
The September unemployment rates in nearby smaller cities were:
* Bristol, 6.0 percent, down from 6.4 percent in August;
* Johnson City, 6.3 percent, down from 7.2 percent in August;
* Kingsport, 7.0 percent, down from 7.6 percent in August; and
* Morristown, 10.1 percent, down from 10.4 percent in August.
HIGHEST AND LOWEST
Scott County, north of Knoxville and bordering Kentucky, had the state's highest county unemployment rate in September, at 16.1 percent.
Lincoln County, south of Nashville and bordering Alabama, and Williamson County, a suburb just south of Nashville, had the state's lowest county unemployment rate in September with 5.2 percent.
Monroe County, on the North Carolina border southwest of Maryville, was the only Tennessee county registering an increase in unemployment in September.