SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. — The state's monthly unemployment rates show just how hard the COVID-19 pandemic hit the workforce in April.
Unemployment soared to double-digits for every county in East Tennessee. Sevier County had the highest unemployment rate in the state at 29.5 percent. The county's unemployment in March was 4.1 percent.
"Due to Sevier County’s tourism-based economy, it is understandable that the unemployment rate would increase when people across the country were isolating to slow the spread of COVID-19. However, as businesses reopen and more people begin to travel, we believe the unemployment rate will drop significantly and soon," said Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters.
Precautions for the coronavirus continue to take a bite out of business.
The Smoky Mountain Opry in Pigeon Forge announced it will not open for the 2020 season due to social distancing requirements. The closure impacts fewer than 50 workers and the company said it has found other jobs for several workers.
"Based on the current social distancing requirements for theaters and the prospect of mounting such a large production show for the 2020 season, we made the very difficult decision to not open the Opry for the 2020 season. We are asking our staff to contact our Human Resources staff for out placement," wrote spokesperson Pete Owens.
The unemployment rate for Monroe County and Cocke Counties also rose above 20 percent in April, putting them in the top 10 for worst unemployment in the state.