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Welcome to one city in America where unemployment is actually declining



Out of 389 metropolitan areas monitored by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is the only city in the nation where the unemployment rate has not risen over the past year. City officials bring in its largest employers: health care providers, bourbon and tobacco producers, and personal protective equipment makers.

“We’ve managed as a community,” Owensboro Mayor Tom Watson told CNN Business on Wednesday.

To date, Watson said the city had about 500 confirmed coronavirus cases, leading to 53 people hospitalized and eight deaths.

As national unemployment was around 11% in June, Owensboro’s unemployment rate was only 4.2%. This has slowed slightly since June 2019, according to a new report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The city’s nearly 54,000 working population had just over 2,200 unemployed in June, down from 2,499 years ago.
The city was not immune to job cuts; it has lost about 3,200 jobs since a year ago, according to BLS. Some workers have also fallen from the labor force, partly because the unemployment rate has fallen ̵
1; but still, unemployment remains below the rest of the country.
The Owensboro restaurant and small business communities were forced to bring in and lay off staff in March when government-ordered stops began.

But according to Mayor Watson, the city’s large private employers compete in some of the few industries that see economic gains during the pandemic and as a result of hiring.

According to the mayor, Owensboro’s largest employer – his hospital, Owensboro Health – was doing well financially.

The town is also home to bourbon makers Sazerac and OZ Tyler. Not surprisingly, booze and beer sales nationwide increased during the pandemic.

“At a time when tens of millions of people in our country are entering unemployment, we are proud to have managed to protect and retain employment for our team members and plan to bring in 80 additional well-paying jobs to Owensboro, “Sazerac spokeswoman Amy Preske told the Owensboro Times during the union negotiations in March.
Unifirst, a uniform workplace company, also makes personal protective equipment, which has been in high demand and short supply across the nation.

Owensboro also has a Swedish Match-owned tobacco products factory. The Stockholm-based company said it saw surprising double-digit sales growth in the second quarter of the year, fueled by demand for its nicotine patches in the United States.

Owensboro Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Candance Castlen Brake said the city is also centrally located between some of the nation’s largest population centers, including Chicago, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Nashville and Indianapolis, making it an optimal distribution center.

Brake acknowledged that Owensboro’s luck is an anomaly, but says it wasn’t an accident.

“During the last recession, our economic development team put a large amount of money into our downtown area which was awarded with a $ 40 million grant from the federal government,” Brake said. “The private development that took place at the center because of what really put us on the map as a community. I think we were lucky so far that the growth sectors in our community when the pandemic hit were still thriving and going good. “

—Annalyn Kurtz contributed to the reporting.

See how the economic recovery is unfolding in America and in your state this CNN dashboard.

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