Nearly every county in Tennessee, including Loudon, has an unemployment rate below 5 percent.
A report released in late December by the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development shows Loudon County at 3.1 percent for November, which is tied for the third lowest during 2019. The lowest came in April at 2.7 percent.
“If you look at our industries here in the county, every one of them are hiring,” Rollen “Buddy” Bradshaw, Loudon County mayor, said. “That goes from the jobs that are paying $12 to $13 an hour to the ones that are paying $18 to $20 an hour. I think that just speaks well for the strength of our industry, and so right now the problem is getting people into the work. I think the 3.1 percent that are claiming unemployment right now, if they’re seriously looking for a job, they’re out there to be had. In effect, I think our unemployment’s pretty close to zero if you look at the big picture.”
Loudon County had a labor force of 23,885, the state reports. Only 738 people were unemployed in November.
“It just shows the strength of our industrial base,” Bradshaw said. “Right now one of the things we’ve talked about over the last few months, actually probably the last year or two, is some kind of an incentive to bring people into Loudon County. We’re growing, but we’re growing more on the upper end of the age field. Our retirement communities continue to grow, so we’ve got to have some form of entry-level housing in order to be able to keep up with our industry and get the employees that they need. That may come into some of the school programs that are preparing some of these kids that are not necessarily interested in going to college, but getting them to prepared to go into the workforce at a younger age.”
Entry-level housing will be an issue Bradshaw hopes to further discuss this year, including the number of houses allowed in planned unit developments.
“That’s something we’ll have to address in this upcoming year and maybe make some adjustments on it so we can get some developers who are willing to come in and invest in Loudon County and invest in entry-level housing so we can maintain our base for our industries,” he said.
A new industry has purchased land in Loudon’s Centre 75 Business Park, which for years sat dormant. Bradshaw hopes the new employer, which could be announced in February, is a sign of things to come.
“I guess we’re going to see it now the levy’s kind of cracked there and we’re going to see it break with more businesses come in,” he said. “It was just about two years ago that I was speaking with a gentleman looking to build an automotive company inside of Loudon County and he asked me straight up, he goes, ‘Can you promise me 700 employees?’ I had to look at him in the eye and say, ‘I sure can’t.’ That’s one of the industries that we missed out on because of the fact that we’re just out of employees right now.”
Seasonally adjusted unemployment statewide was down 0.1 of a percentage point when compared to October, setting November’s rate at 3.3 percent. The U.S. unemployment rate for November is 3.5 percent.
Statewide rates deceased in 38 counties, increased in 33 counties and remained the same in 24 counties.
“It’s very encouraging to have so many counties with unemployment rates below 5 percent during November,” Jeff McCord, Department of Labor & Workforce Development commissioner, said in a release. “As we moved closer to the busy holiday season, more Tennesseans were taking home paychecks, which is the ultimate goal.”