BY RICH JONES
ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR
Greene County's unemployment rate rose sharply in December, climbing to 10.4 percent from 8.7 percent the previous month.
The local jobless rate followed a statewide trend in which all but two of Tennessee's 95 counties posted higher unemployment rates in December than in November, according to the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development.
The state agency cited as a cause "normal seasonal employment declines."
County unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted and reflect seasonal employment changes month-to-month, according to a news release from the Department of Labor & Workforce Development.
Statewide, the December jobless rate remained constant at 7.6 percent, the same as in November.
The U.S. unemployment rate in December was 7.8 percent, unchanged from November.
Seven nearby counties -- Cocke, Hamblen, Hawkins, Sevier, Sullivan, Unicoi and Washington -- also recorded higher unemployment numbers in the department's monthly report, which was released on Thursday.
Greene County's unemployment rate in 2012 was in double-digits for nine of the 12 months. Months with single-digit unemployment were April, May and November.
The average unemployment rate for the county in 2012 was 10.4 percent.
Greene County's unemployment rate a year ago, in December 2011, was 10.8 percent.
The latest report shows Greene County as having 27,290 persons employed in December, and 3,180 unemployed, in a total labor force of 30,480 (numbers are rounded to the nearest 10 by the Department of Labor & Workforce Development).
Greene County during November had 27,360 employed and 2,620 unemployed in a total labor force of 29,970.
That means there were 70 fewer persons employed in the county during December than in the previous month, according to the latest data. There were also 560 more persons unemployed in December than in November.
The total work force in December, employed and unemployed combined, increased by 510 persons.
Here are the jobless rates in nearby East Tennessee counties in December, and the county-by-county change:
* Cocke County, 10.6 percent, up from 9.2 percent in November;
* Hamblen County, 8.9 percent, up from 8.0 percent in November;
* Hawkins County, 7.6 percent, up from from 7.0 percent in November;
* Sevier County, 8.1 percent, up from 6.9 percent in November;
* Sullivan County, 6.6 percent, up from 5.6 percent in November;
* Unicoi County, 9.1 percent, up from 7.7 percent in November, and
* Washington County, 6.3 percent up from 5.5 percent in November.
THE PAST YEAR
Here are the Greene County unemployment rates in each month for the past year, beginning with December, 2012:
* 10.4 percent in December;
* 8.7 percent in November;
* 10.4 percent in October;
* 10.0 percent in September;
* 11.0 percent in August;
* 11.6 percent in July;
* 11.2 percent in June;
* 9.6 percent in May;
* 9.5 percent in April;
* 10.7 percent in March;
* 11.1 percent in February;
* 11.3 percent in January; and
* 10.8 percent in December, 2011.
Unemployment numbers for Greeneville and Greene County are counted together.
Here are the December unemployment rates in Greene County in recent years:
* 10.4 percent in December 2012;
* 10.8 percent in December 2011;
* 12.2 percent in December 2010;
* 15.0 percent in December 2009; and
* 11.2 percent in December 2008.
STATE'S LARGEST CITIES
The December unemployment rates in Tennessee's largest cities were:
* Chattanooga, 8.0 percent, up from 7.3 percent in November;
* Knoxville, 6.8 percent, up from 6.3 percent in November;
* Memphis, 9.8 percent, up from 8.8 percent in November; and
* Nashville, 6.2 percent, up from 5.7 percent in November.
The December unemployment rates in nearby smaller cities were:
* Bristol, 6.1 percent, up from 5.2 percent in November;
* Johnson City, 6.3 percent, up from 5.5 percent in November;
* Kingsport, 7.2 percent, up from 6.4 percent in November; and
* Morristown, 9.8 percent, up from 8.9 percent in November.
HIGHEST AND LOWEST
Scott County, north of Knoxville and bordering Kentucky, had the state's highest county unemployment rate in December, at 16.8 percent.
Williamson County, a suburb just south of Nashville, recorded the state's lowest county unemployment rate in December with 5.0 percent.
The only two counties to show a drop in unemployment were Macon County, on the Kentucky border northeast of Nashville, and Warren County, east of Murfreesboro.