Unemployment rises in May across most of Chattanooga area

Unemployment rises in May across most of Chattanooga area

June 23rd, 2012 by Dave Flessner in Business Around the Region
Photo by Laura McNutt /Times Free Press.

Seasonal job help

The Georgia Department of Labor will host another "Ask Ted" (Type, Explore, Discover) online chat next Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on their website, www.dol.state.ga.us. Entitled "Seasonal and Temporary Employment," the 90-minute chat will focus on how job seekers can enter or re-enter the workforce through seasonal or temporary jobs.

The chat will help job seekers discover the advantages of these types of jobs, learn where and when to look for them, as well as dispel myths about these jobs. People may ask questions during the live chat or email questions in advance to askted@gdol.ga.gov.

With school out and more people looking for work, unemployment rose last month across most of Southeast Tennessee and Northwest Georgia.

The jobless rate in metropolitan Chattanooga last month rose by 0.3 percent to 7.4 percent. Although still below the state and national unemployment rates, unemployment in Chattanooga jumped by one of the biggest monthly amounts since the local job market hit its bottom three years ago.

"Employment continues to grow, but it's at a more sluggish pace," said Dr. Bill Fox, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Tennessee.

The six-county Chattanooga area added 1,820 jobs from May 2011 to May 2012, a relatively sluggish 0.7 percent growth pace in the past year.

"I'm seeing a few more job postings, but the job market is still tough," said Tricia Hundl, an unemployed welder and electrical worker from Ringgold, Ga.

Hundl lost her job at the Shaw Industries plant in Chickamauga, Ga., in December and has been looking for a new job since.

"I'm getting unemployment benefits, but I'd much rather have a job," she said after searching for work at the Tennessee Career Center in Chattanooga.

The Chattanooga area has added more than 3,000 full- and part-time jobs over the past year from expansions at Amazon, Volkswagen, Wacker and related suppliers. But some of those jobs have been only temporary.

Lamondrick Cozard, who moved to Chattanooga last year from Columbus, Ga., got one of the jobs at one of Amazon's new distribution facilities in November but his job ended three days before Christmas.

"A lot of us thought we were getting permanent jobs, but they turned out to be only temporary," Cozard said while searching for a new job Friday.

Across the wider Chattanooga region, the jobless rate rose in all but three of the 18 counties around Chattanooga during May.

In Northwest Georgia, employment is a tale of two markets.

In metropolitan Dalton, the self-described "Carpet Capital of the World" which includes Whitfield and Murray County, employment dropped by 3,391 jobs in the past year despite the gain of 124 jobs last month from April's level. The 11.4 percent jobless rate in Dalton was the highest of any of Georgia's 14 metro areas.

But the lowest jobless rates in the entire Chattanooga region remained in the bedroom communities of Chattanooga in Catoosa and Walker counties in Northwest Georgia.