Unemployment rose across the Chattanooga region last month as graduates entered the labor market and other students began looking for summer jobs.
Despite continued signs of economic recovery, the jobless rate in the six-county Chattanooga metropolitan area jumped a half of a percent last month to 7.9 percent and was also a half percent above the local unemployment level of a year ago.
In the region, only Catoosa and Walker counties in North Georgia posted a jobless rate below the national average of 7.6 percent during May. A half dozen rural counties in Southeast Tennessee and Northwest Georgia still had double-digit unemployment rates in May, nearly three years after the Great Recession bottomed out in 2010.
"There are jobs available, but there aren't many if you live in Sequatchie County like I do," said Denay Davis, an unemployed Dunlap, Tenn., resident who was looking for work Thursday at the Tennessee Career Center in Chattanooga. "It looks like I'm going to have to travel to find a job."
Allison Stapleton, who previously worked from her home in East Ridge for a North Carolina company, lost her job in April and is still looking for employment.
"There are a lot of jobs, but there's also a lot of competition among people ready to fill those jobs," she said.
Nationwide, the labor department reported Thursday that the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 346,000 last week, evidence that the job market is still improving modestly, despite signs of slower growth.
Such applications tend to be a proxy for layoffs and have been trending slightly down in the past year. Since March, new claims for jobless benefits have fluctuated between 340,000 and 360,000, a level consistent with steady hiring.
Nationwide, employers added 175,000 jobs in May, almost matching the average monthly gain for the past year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Contact Dave Flessner at email@example.com or at 757-6340.