Chattanooga area jobless rate rises as schools out, government jobs fall

Chattanooga area jobless rate rises as schools out, government jobs fall

July 26th, 2013 by Dave Flessner in Business Around the Region
Photo by Laura McNutt/Times Free Press.

Unemployment rose across the Chattanooga region last month as schools let out for summer and more students and graduates entered the labor market.

Despite yearly gains in private-sector jobs in both Tennessee and Georgia, the number of government jobs continued to shrink, according to reports released Thursday by the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development and the Georgia Department of Labor.

Across the 19-county region of Southeast Tennessee and Northwest Georgia, county jobless rates were up in June in all counties. Unemployment in the region varied from a low of 7.4 percent in the North Georgia bedroom communities of Catoosa County up to 12.8 percent and 12.9 percent in the rural counties of Rhea and Van Buren counties.

Three years after the official end of the recession, eight of the 19 area counties still had double-digit unemployment during June.

Job growth has suffered this year from federal budget sequestration, school budget cuts, TVA job losses and other reductions in government employment.

Over the past year, total employment in Tennessee is up by 1.2 percent and jobs have grown by 2.2 percent in Georgia, according to government figures. But government employment over the past year is down by 3.5 percent in Tennessee and 1.7 percent in Georgia.

"The main headwind facing the economy is the public sector," said Jeffrey Humphreys, director of the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia. "The good news is that I don't think the recovery itself is in jeopardy."

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 757-6340