Tennessee and Georgia added 118,700 jobs over the past year to boost employment totals in both states to the highest level since President Obama was elected.
But a new report shows the unemployment rate remained above the U.S. average during October in both Tennessee and Georgia.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics Friday said Tennessee's 8.4 percent jobless rate in October remained above the U.S. rate of 7.3 percent and was up from the 7.8 percent unemployment level in the Volunteer State a year ago. Tennessee was among 11 states with no change in the monthly jobless rate during October.
In contrast, Georgia's jobless rate last month of 8.1 percent was down 0.2 percent during the month and was 0.7 percent below the August rate of 8.8 percent. Georgia was among 28 states reporting lower jobless rates during October, according to the BLS.
State economists in Tennessee said they are puzzled about why Tennessee's jobless rate has moved higher than the U.S. average even as the state has added jobs at a similar pace. Employment figures compiled by a separate business employer survey estimate Tennessee added 8,000 jobs during October and 33,200 jobs over the past year. BLS said employment grew in Tennessee by 1.2 percent from October 2012 to October 2013.
"Tennessee is growing at a similar pace to the country as a whole and we're seeing pretty good job growth across all sectors from the employer survey, so we're not sure about the unemployment figures before they are adjusted in a few months," said Dr. Bill Fox, director of economic forecasting at the University of Tennessee's Center for Business and Economic Research. "We think that the growth we're seeing in employment will continue and we're expecting somewhat better growth in 2014 than what we've seen in 2013."
Tennessee Labor Commissioner Burns Taylor said the largest job increases last month in Tennessee occurred in trade, transportation and utilities, food services, and professional business services. Government employment over the past year in Tennessee is down, however.
In Georgia, the number of persons on the job rose last month to the highest level since November 2008. BLS said Georgia did not have a statistically significant change in employment during October but still added 85,500 jobs, growing at a 2.1 percent pace, in the 12 months ended in October.
Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said he is encouraged by the improvement in the labor market since the last jobless report for August before the federal government shutdown delayed release of monthly figures.
"We've seen Georgia gain almost 30,000 jobs over the last two months," he said. "And, the good thing about the job creation is that it's pretty much through all sectors."
Statewide, Georgia added 22,700 jobs during the month of October and 85,500 jobs over the entire past year.
The biggest job gains in the past year came in metro Atlanta, where employment by a strong 2.7 percent with the addition of 63,300 job over the past year.
Metropolitan Dalton, which shed nearly one of every five jobs during the recession and its aftermath, rebounded in the past year with the addition of 700 jobs, or 1.1 percent more employment, from October 2012 to last month.
Four of Georgia's 14 metro areas still lost jobs in the past year. Metro Rome had 200 fewer people on the job last month than a year ago, or a 0.5 percent decline in employment.
Contact Dave Flessner at firstname.lastname@example.org or 757-6340