Perry County residents fill out employment applications at a job fair in May.
Faced with one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, Tennessee has taken matters into its own hands. In a work project inspired by the New Deal, the state is using money from the federal stimulus package to create hundreds of jobs ranging from working for the state Transportation Department to baking goodies at the local pie shop.
The New York Times:
Critics elsewhere may be questioning how many jobs the stimulus program has created, but here in central Tennessee, hundreds of workers are again drawing paychecks after many months out of work, thanks to a novel use of federal stimulus money by Tennessee officials to help one of the state’s hardest-hit areas.
There, on a recent morning, some workers were cutting down pine trees with chainsaws and clearing undergrowth, just past the auto parts factory that laid them off last year when it moved to Mexico. Others were taking applications for unemployment benefits at the very center where they themselves had applied not long ago. A few were making turnovers at the Armstrong Pie Company (“The South’s Finest Since 1946”).
The state decided to spend some of its money to try to reduce unemployment by up to 40 percent here in Perry County, a small, rural county 90 miles southwest of Nashville where the unemployment rate had risen to above 25 percent after its biggest plant, the auto parts factory, closed.