April 25, 2005 -- Tennessee may be known as "The Volunteer State," but a recent study suggests that more and more of its residents are beginning to take home a paycheck.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its figures for the fastest-growing large counties in terms of job growth last week, and Rutherford County, Tennessee came in on top at 9.2 percent.

Small businesses' hiring habits played no small role in the number of jobs created and lost, according to Brian Headd, economist at the Small Business Administration.

""hen a large company lays off thousands of employees it is national news, but in fact, the rise and fall of small businesses has a much greater effect on job growth than most people realize," said Headd.

Clark County, Nevada ranked second with a job-growth rate of 7.4 percent, followed by Riverside, California with 7.2 percent. In terms of the actual number of jobs, Maricopa County in Arizona topped the list with 58,600 new jobs and Clark County was second with 56,500 new jobs. On the other end of the list was Trumbull County, Ohio, which saw a 3.7 percent decline in job growth, placing it last. The largest absolute decline in employment occurred in Wayne County, Michigan, which lost 9,700 jobs. The results of the study are for the year through Sept. 30, 2004.

Bill Dunkelberg of the National Federation of Independent Business suggested the results reflected the population growth in those areas. "Small businesses grow as a reaction to an increase in population where there is a need for more infrastructure and more services," he said. "You don't open a pizza parlor in an empty town and wait for people to show up."