State unemployment rates fell to a record low for the second consecutive
month, Gov. Ned Ray McWherter announced last week.

McWherter reported that the jobless rate for May was 4.4 percent, 0.3
percent lower than in April. The May unemployment figures are the lowest
since the state began keeping seasonally adjusted records.

The improving unemployment figures came only a week after the announcement
that Tennessee's per capita growth in the past decade is ranked first in
the nation.

The state's per capita income jumped 87.1 percent in the past 10 years, an
increase from $9,850 in 1983 to $18,434 in 1993.

McWherter said the state is within striking distance of deflating
unemployment to below 10 percent in each of Tennessee's 95 counties. Last
week's report stated that for the first time in 20 years, all but one
county had unemployment rates less than 10 percent.

"We are within 47 jobs of having every county in Tennessee below 10 percent
unemployment," McWherter said. "Tennessee's economic expansion is
widespread, with only one county having double-digit unemployment and 54
counties with rates below 5 percent."

He said the numbers are in direct contrast with the 1987 report, in which
42 counties had unemployment rates exceeding 10 percent in the 95-County
Jobs Plan.

The May figures dropped the yearly unemployment rate from 5.8 percent to
4.4 percent, while the national average dipped only 0.9 percent.

James Davenport, state employment security commissioner, said the May
numbers mean more people are working in the state than ever before, which
is a testament to strong economy.

"It is very important that in a time when more people are looking for work,
that the economy continues to have the strength to create new jobs to meet
the demand," Davenport said.

According to the report, non-farm employment services added 23,100 jobs in
the past year, while health and business services added 14,200 new jobs.
Trade and manufacturing employment were both up; 19,200 and 10,900 jobs
respectively. Apparel jobs have declined by 2,400.

Williamson County registered Tennessee's lowest unemployment rate at 2
percent, down from 2.2 percent. Van Buren County reported the state's
highest unemployment rate at 11.8 percent, which was down from 12.5

The Tennessee unemployment numbers were based on two major surveys; the
Current Population Survey and a business survey. The CPS provides
estimates of the number of people in the labor force, total employment,
unemployment and the unemployment rate. CPS numbers are seasonally adjusted
for all states as directed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A business
survey collects data by place of work and generates data for various