published Friday, May 17th, 2013

Tennessee jobless rate up

April unemployment

* 7.5 percent - U.S. jobless rate, down from 7.6 percent in March

* 8 percent - Tennessee jobless rate, up from 7.8 percent in March

* 8.2 percent - Georgia's jobless rate, down from 8.4 percent in March

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Georgia's construction-driven economy may have been battered more than most during the Great Recession, but the job market in the Peach State is now bouncing back faster than its northern neighbor.

Tennessee's jobless rate edged up last month to the highest rate in seven months, climbing by two-tenths of a percent to 8 percent after the Volunteer State shed a seasonally adjusted 2,200 jobs during April, according to the monthly household surveys.

In contrast, Georgia added 31,200 new jobs in April, cutting its jobless rate to the lowest level in four and a half years. Georgia's jobless rate of 8.2 percent in April was still well above the comparable U.S. rate of 7.5 percent and still 0.2 percent higher than the rate in Tennessee.

"Georgia's unemployment rate is the lowest it's been since December 2008," Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said in a statement Thursday. "We're seeing a lot of positives in construction."

Yearly gains in construction across Georgia were the best since 2007 before the recession, Butler said.

In Tennessee, economists said the state's economy is showing only tepid growth.

"We haven't seen much change over the past year," said Dr. David Penn, director of the Business and Economic Research Center at Middle Tennessee State University. "I think in the first quarter, the payroll tax increase and the budget sequestration have combined to make people a bit more stressed, and that has held down employment growth around the country and in Tennessee."

Over the past year, the number of working Tennesseans grew by 47,900 people.

While employment growth was limited, the average manufacturing wage in Tennessee grew during April to $17.09 per hour, according to state figures released Thursday. The average factory work week in Tennessee also grew form 41.6 hours in March to 41.7 hours in April.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com.

about Dave Flessner...

Dave Flessner is the business editor for the Times Free Press. A journalist for 35 years, Dave has been business editor and projects editor for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, city editor for The Chattanooga Times, business and county reporter for the Chattanooga Times, correspondent for the Lansing State Journal and Ingham County News in Michigan, staff writer for the Hastings Daily Tribune in Nebraska, and news director for WCBN-FM in Michigan. Dave, a native ...

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