Unemployment rises in June in Tennessee and Georgia

Unemployment rises in June in Tennessee and Georgia

July 18th, 2014 by Dave Flessner in Business Around the Region

June unemployment

Tennessee - 6.6 percent, up from 6.4 percent in May

Georgia - 7.4 percent, up from 7.2 percent in May

U.S. average - 6.1 percent, down from 6.3 percent in May

Tennessee and Georgia lost a net 20,600 jobs last month, boosting the unemployment rate in both states above the national average.

The jobless rate during June rose by two-tenths of a percent in Tennessee to 6.6 percent and increased by two-tenths of a percent in Georgia to 7.4 percent

In contrast to the job losses in Tennessee and Georgia, U.S. employers added 288,000 jobs during June to cut the national jobless rate to 6.1 percent -- the lowest rate since September 2008.

"The U.S. as a whole has now gained back all of the jobs lost during the recession, but we're still not back to where we once were in Tennessee," said Matt Murray, associate director at the University of Tennessee's Center for Business and Economic Research. "In terms of job growth, Tennessee doesn't seem to doing as well as the national average and I'm not sure exactly why."

Tennessee's manufacturing-based economy has bounced back from the worst of the recession and overall the state has added 53,600 jobs in the past year. But Murray said the improved efficiency of most factories means that employers need fewer workers than in the past to produce the same amount of goods.

"I'm afraid it's still going to continue to be a struggle for at least the next several quarters in Tennessee," Murray said.

In Georgia, the housing-dependent state was hit harder than most states during the recession, especially in economically sensitive regions of Georgia like the Carpet Capital in Dalton where the unemployment rate jumped above 13 percent in 2010.

Jobs have returned to Georgia at a faster pace over the past two years despite the dip in employment during June, but the Peach State still has farther to go to bring its unemployment rate down to the U.S. average.

"Although the rate increased (in both May and June), it's because of seasonal factors, such as the summer job loss among non-contract school workers and temporary layoffs, primarily in manufacturing," Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said Thursday. "We also saw our labor force increase for the sixth month in a row."

"But, the really good news is that Georgia employers have created 81,100 jobs since last June," Butler continued, "which is the largest June-to-June job growth since 2006."

Chattanooga job seekers said they are finding more job listings than in the past, but the market remains competitive for those trying to get what jobs are being added by local employers.

"There are a lot of job listings, but it is a tough market and it's not easy to find employment," said Wafa Abdelfattah, a former client service manager who lost her job last month and was searching for new work Thursday at the Chattanooga Career Center. "There seem to be a lot of people applying for every job that comes open."

Carlos Watkins, a 19-year-old who recently graduated from Memphis, was looking for his first job on Thursday.

"I'm just trying to get to work somewhere, but it would be great to get a some at a place like Volkswagen," he said after reviewing the listing of open jobs. "I'm just trying to find the right job now to get settled here."

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