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Welcome to one city in America where unemployment is really falling



Of the 389 metropolitan areas monitored by the Office for Labor Statistics, it is the only city in the country where the unemployment rate has not increased in the last year. City officials chalk that up to their largest employers: healthcare providers, bourbon and tobacco producers, and manufacturers of personal protective equipment.

“We did it as a community,” Owensboro Mayor Tom Watson told CNN Business on Wednesday.

Watson has said to date that the city has had about 500 confirmed cases of coronaviruses, leading to the hospitalization of 53 people and 8 deaths.

While the unemployment rate in June was about 11%, the unemployment rate in Owensboro was only 4.2%. According to a new report from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, this has declined slightly since June 201
9. In June, which is almost 54,000 people, almost 54,000 people worked in the city, which is less than 2,400 people a year ago.
The city was not immune to job cuts; according to the BLS, it lost about 3,200 jobs a year ago. Some workers have also left the labor force, which is partly why the unemployment rate has fallen – yet unemployment remains well below the rest of the country.
The Owensboro restaurant and small business community were forced to leave and lay off employees in March when government-ordered shutdowns began.

However, according to Mayor Watson, the city’s main private employers compete in some of the few sectors that see economic gains during the pandemic and have been employed as a result.

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

The city is also home to bourbon producers Sazerac and OZ Tyler. Nationwide alcohol and beer sales unexpectedly increased during the pandemic.

“At a time when tens of millions of people in our country are entering unemployment, we are proud to have been able to protect and maintain work for our team members and plan to bring another 80 paid jobs to Owensboro,” Sazerac spokeswoman Amy Preske This was told by the Owensboro Times during the union talks in March.
Unifirst, a single company in the workplace, also manufactures personal protective equipment, which is in demand and inadequate throughout the country.

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

President and CEO of the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce Candance Castlen Brake says the city is also centrally located among some of the country’s largest population centers, including Chicago, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Nashville and Indianapolis, which makes it an optimal distribution center.

Brake acknowledged that Owensboro’s happiness was an anomaly, but said it was not an accident.

“During the last recession, our economic development team invested a lot of money in our central area, which was triggered by a $ 40 million subsidy from the federal government,” the brake said. “The private development that took place in the city center really put us on the map as a community. I think we were just lucky to have sectors of growth in our community when the pandemic hit still prospered and prospered. ”

—Analyn Kurtz contributed the report.

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