Area jobless rate up for second straight month

Area jobless rate up for second straight month

August 17th, 2012 by Dave Flessner in Business Around the Region

Dr. Bill Fox, director of the University of Tennessee Center for Business and Economic Research

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

By the numbers

* 8.2 - Percent of U.S. workers unemployed in July, up 0.1 percent from June

* 8.3 - Percent of Tennessee workers unemployed in July, up 0.1 percent from June

* 9.3 - Percent of Georgia workers unemployed in July, up 0.3 percent from June

Sources: Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Georgia Department of Labor

Seasonal layoffs in manufacturing and schools pushed unemployment higher last month in Tennessee and Georgia for the second consecutive month.

Tennessee's jobless rate rose by a tenth of a percent during July to 8.3 percent, while unemployment in Georgia climbed by three-tenths of a percent last month to 9.3 percent. Unemployment in both states was the highest since December and above the national jobless rate of 8.2 percent in July.

"The general picture is still one of a growing economy, albeit not much by historical standards," said Bill Fox, the chief economic forecaster at the University of Tennessee's Center for Business and Economic Research.

Fox blamed the increases in the unemployment rates over the past two months primarily on temporary layoffs and other seasonal factors. Over the past year, employment grew in Tennessee by 1.2 percent, or 32,900 jobs, and expanded by 1.3 percent, or 50,600 jobs in Georgia.

Al Clark, general manager of MRINetwork affiliate Management Recruiters of Chattanooga, said the slowdown in hiring is seen in the longer time it takes the average employer to hire from among the applicants referred to employers for available jobs.

"Consumer confidence is down and gas prices are up so people are pulling back a little bit," Clark said. "We see that in the time between when we send our candidates in to hire and when they are actually on board and that has increased two full weeks since the start of the year from six weeks to eight weeks from start to finish."

In Georgia, there were 20,600 jobs lost among seasonal workers in the local public schools during July. But some of that loss was offset because the private sector added 5,600 jobs.

Georgia's Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said the state is seeing some more recent positive trends.

"One of the main reasons for the increase in the unemployment rate (in July) was a large number of temporary layoffs in manufacturing," Butler said. "But many of those people have already gone back to work."