Jobless rate in Chattanooga has risen to its highest level since last July

FILE - This April 22, 2014, file photo shows an employment application form on a table during a job fair at Columbia-Greene Community College in Hudson, N.Y. The Labor Department releases its weekly report on applications for unemployment benefits on Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Mike Groll, File)

The jobless rate in Chattanooga rose last month to its highest level since last July, but labor officials blamed the increase on seasonal factors that swelled the number of people looking for work at the start of summer.

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development said Thursday that the non-seasonally adjusted jobless rate in metro Chattanooga rose to 3.9% in June, up from 3.% in May and a record low of 2.8% in May.

Chattanooga area employers added a net 5,537 jobs over the past year, boosting overall employment in the six-county Chattanooga metropolitan area at a healthy 2.1% annual rate.

Chattanooga's metro jobless rate was also below the 4.4 percent rate in metro Cleveland just to the east and was well below the 4.5% rate in metro Dalton to the South.

Jobless in June

The non-seasonally adjusted unemployment in June was up from May in all Chattanooga area counties:Catoosa, Georgia: 3.4%, up 0.3%Dade, Georgia: 3.7%, up 0.5%Walker, Georgia: 3.7%, up 0.5%Hamilton: 3.9%, up 1%Coffee: 3.9%, up 1%Chattooga, Georgia: 4.0%, up 0.5%Whitfield, Georgia: 4.2%, up 0.5%Bradley: 4.3%, up 1.1%McMinn: 4.6%, up 1.1%Sequatchie: 4.9%, up 1.3%Grundy: 5.0%, up 1.5%Marion: 5.0%, up 1.4%Polk: 5.0%, up 1.4%Murray, Georgia: 5.1%, up 0.8%Meigs: 5.4%, up 1.4%Van Buren: 5.4%, up 1.7%Bledsoe: 6.4%, up 1.6%Rhea: 6.7%, up 1.4%Source: Tennessee Department of labor and Georgia Department of Labor and Workforce Development

Unemployment last month grew in all 95 counties of Tennessee as students entered the labor market and some education-related jobs ceased during the summer.

"No one likes to see unemployment increase in every county across the state," Tennessee Labor Commissioner Jeff McCord said in the monthly jobless report. "But the rates typically increase this time of year because we see a lot of seasonal unemployment during the summer months, mostly because school is not in session."

Dr. Bill Fox, director of the Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Tennessee, also minimized the uptick in the monthly jobless rate in June and said it doesn't indicate any reversal of what is now the longest economic recovery in modern history.

"We still have an unemployment rate that is near historically low levels and in this environment anyone who has the skills and wants to work can find a job," Fox said, noting that there nearly twice as many jobs listed at Tennessee Career Centers than there were unemployed Tennesseans last month.

In metropolitan Chattanooga, unemployment was lowest during June in the Northwest Georgia counties of Catoosa, Dade and Walker where the jobless rates ranged from 3.3 to 3.7%. Across Southeast Tennessee, the jobless rate remained lowest in Hamilton and Coffee counties at 3.9% and was highest in Rhea County, which had the third highest jobless rate among Tennessee's 95 counties at 6.7%.

With a rate of 3 percent, both Williamson and Davidson counties have the state's lowest unemployment.

Contact Dave Flessner at or at 757-6340.