Unemployment in metropolitan Chattanooga remained below the state and national averages in January even though the jobless rate in the 6-county region didn't decline in the past year as much as the rest of the country.
The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development reported Thursday that employers in the 6-county Chattanooga area added 1,140 net new jobs from January 2012 to January 2013. Because of a comparable increase in the number of people looking for work over the past year, the jobless rate for January in Chattanooga was unchanged from the previous year.
The January rate was up 0.5 percent from December, however, reflecting the usual season decline in jobs following Christmas and prior to the start of the spring construction and tourism seasons.
"We continue to see steady, but relatively sluggish job growth," said Dr. Bill Fox, director of economic forecasting at the University of Tennessee. "We expect a slow decline in the jobless rate, although the budget sequestration could cost some government-related jobs."
In metropolitan Dalton, Ga., the jobless rate during January rose 0.9 percent from December to 11.9 percent -- the highest among the 14 metro areas in Georgia. Over the past year, Dalton's rate did decline from 12.8 percent a year ago, but that decline stemmed from fewer workers in the local labor market. The number of employed workers in Dalton in January was 185 fewer than in the same month a year ago.
Across Southeast Tennessee and Northwest Georgia, the jobless rate remained lowest in the bedroom communities of North Georgia. Catoosa County had the unemployment rate at the start of the year at only 5.6 percent -- or just over half the comparable U.S. jobless rate of 8.5 percent.
Unemployment in the region remained the highest in rural counties. Half of the counties in the Chattanooga region -- all of them outside of the six core metro counties -- reported double-digit jobless rates during January, according to state figures released Thursday.