Unemployment up in Tennessee, Georgia

Unemployment up in Tennessee, Georgia

July 20th, 2012 by Dave Flessner in Business Around the Region

Timothy Goines, left, has help from Adrian Craighead while looking for jobs on the computer at the Tennessee Employment Service Office at Eastgate Center in Brainerd in this file photo.

Photo by Dan Henry/Times Free Press.

By the numbers

8.1 - Percent unemployed in Tennessee in June, up from 7.9 percent in May but down from 9.4 percent

9 - Percent unemployed in Georgia in June, up from 8.9 percent in May but down 9.9 percent a year ago

8.2 - Percent unemployed nationally in June, unchanged from May and down from 9.1 percent a year ago

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

Unemployment rose last month across Tennessee and Georgia as the slowing recovery cut the number of jobs in both states during June.

With school out for the summer and state budget cuts trimming other public sector jobs, government employment fell in the two states by 26,100 jobs during June.

That pushed up the jobless rate in Tennessee by two-tenths of a percent from May to 8.1 percent last month, just a fraction under the stable 8.2 percent national unemployment rate for June.

In Georgia, unemployment in June averaged 9 percent, up from 8.9 percent in May.

"This continues the trend we have seen each spring for several years now with the recovery seeming to slowdown and stall any drop in the jobless rate," said David Penn, director of the Business and Economic Research Center at Middle Tennessee State University. "Economic growth is just not great enough yet to generate enough jobs to bring down unemployment, which has remained near its current levels for most of this year."

Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said the loss of 8,200 net jobs in June in the Peach State "is a lot less than we anticipated, based on recent trends" of a slowdown in some industrial production and retail sales.

"Despite the overall loss, we gained 1,500 manufacturing jobs and 900 in construction," Butler said. "This is encouraging."

But the number of first-time claims for unemployment insurance in Georgia was still up by 2,116, or 4.5 percent in June over May. Georgia's jobless rate has exceeded the U.S. average since the economic downturn began in 2008 although Georgia's employment last month was still up by 45,200 jobs, or 1.2 percent, from a year ago.

In Tennessee, employment rose in the past year by 41,800 jobs, or nearly 1.6 percent despite the June job losses.

Despite the increase in last month's jobless rate, Tennessee has still remained below the U.S. average for each of the past six months. But June's 8.1 percent rate in Tennessee was the highest since January.

"This increase (in the unemployment rate) could simply be lull in the recovery, but we hope it doesn't signal the early signs of another slowdown," Penn said. "Households are getting more cautious with spending. But the housing market seems to be getting better and eventually that has got to have a very positive impact on the economy overall."