As retailers started getting in the holiday spirit last month, the job market got a bit of Christmas cheer across both Tennessee and Georgia.
But unemployment in both states remained above the national average and continued to hover near or above double-digit rates for the third consecutive year.
"We continue to expect slow, modest growth in employment, and unfortunately that means we're likely to see historically high levels of unemployment for some time to come," University of Tennessee Economist Bill Fox said Thursday. "Until the housing market gets turned around, it's going to be hard to have significant growth, and we just don't expect to see the acceleration of growth that you normally do in an economic recovery."
In October, the jobless rate in Tennessee fell by two-tenths of a percent to 9.6 percent, while unemployment dropped in Georgia by a tenth of a percent to 10.2 percent.
Nationwide, unemployment also fell by a tenth of a percent to 9 percent.
The Georgia Department of Labor said that 26,500 jobs were added across the Peach State last month. While growth came in several sectors, 12,200 of the jobs occurred from early hiring in retail, transportation and warehousing as employers prepared for the holiday season.
"Historically, we don't usually see a spike in retail hiring in the month of October," Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said. "However, even though this is a good sign, we will be cautiously watching the hiring trends from now until the end of the year."
Despite the monthly gains in employment in Georgia, October staffing levels across the state were still 32,600 below where they were a year ago.
October was the 51st consecutive month Georgia has exceeded the national unemployment rate.