Welcome to a city in America where unemployment is really falling

Out of 389 metropolitan areas tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is the only city in the country where the unemployment rate has not increased in the last one year. City officials chalked up their largest employers: health care providers, bourbon and tobacco producers, and manufacturers of personal protective equipment.

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

To date, Watson said there were about 500 confirmed coronovirus cases in the city, which led to 53 people being hospitalized and eight dead.

While national unemployment was around 11% in June, Owensboro’s unemployment rate was just 4.2%. According to a new report by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, it was slightly lower than June 2019. The city’s working population of about 54,000 was just over 2,200 unemployed in June, up from 2,499 a year earlier.
The city has not cut jobs; According to the BLS, it lost about 3,200 jobs a year ago. Some workers have also been forced out of the labor force, which has partially fallen the unemployment rate – but still, unemployment remains well below the rest of the country.
Owensboro’s restaurant and small business communities were forced to close in March and lay off employees when the government ordered that the shutdown had begun.

But according to Mayor Watson, the city’s major private employers compete in certain industries, which see economic benefits during the epidemic and are hired as a result.

Owensboro’s largest employer – its hospital, Owensboro Health – is doing financially well during the epidemic, according to the mayor.

The city is also home to bourgeon manufacturers Sazerac and OZ Tyler. Unexpectedly, food and countrywide sales of beer have increased during the epidemic.

“At a time when millions of people in our country are entering unemployment, we are proud that we are able to protect and maintain work for our team members and plan to provide 80 additional good jobs for Owensboro Are, “a Sazerac spokesman said Presske told the Owensboro Times during union talks in March.
Unifirst, a workplace uniform company, also manufactures personal protective equipment, which has been in high demand and in short supply across the country.

Owensboro also owns a tobacco products factory owned by Swedish Matches. The Stockholm-based company said it saw astonishing double-digit sales growth in the United States in the second quarter due to demand for its nicotine patch.

Candens Castlen Brake, president and CEO of the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce, says the city is among some of the nation’s largest population centers, including Chicago, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Nashville and Indianapolis, making it an optimal distribution center .

Brake acknowledges that Owensboro’s fate is an anomaly, but says it was not an accident.

“During the last recession, our economic development team pumped large sums of money into our downtown area by a $ 40 million grant from the federal government,” Brake said. “The personal development of the city because of that has really put us on the map as a community. I think we have been lucky enough to have the development areas in our community when the epidemic still hits Were flourishing and flourishing. “

-Anleen Kurtz contributed reporting.

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