Chattanooga jobless rate edges higher from historic low in April as local employers add 8,557 jobs over past 12 months

Occupation job search employment issues job classified ad unemployment searching job tile job employment / Getty Images
Occupation job search employment issues job classified ad unemployment searching job tile job employment / Getty Images

Jobless in May

The unemployment rates in the Chattanooga region rose in May compared with April in most counties:› Hamilton, 2.9%, up 0.3%› Coffee, 2.9%, up 0.3%› Catoosa, Georgia, 2.9%, down 0.1%› Franklin, 3.0%, up 0.5%› Bradley, 3.2%, up 0.4%› Walker, Georgia, 3.2%, down 0.2%› Dade, Georgia, 3.2%, up 0.2%› Grundy, 3.5%, up 0.3%› McMinn, 3.5%, up 0.4%› Chattooga, Georgia, 3.5%, up 0.1%› Marion, 3.6%, up 0.2%› Sequatchie, 3.6%, up 0.4%› Polk, 3.6%, up 0.5%› Whitfield, Georgia, 3.6%, down 0.3%› Van Buren, 3.8%, up 0.3%› Bledsoe, 4.9%, up 0.8%› Rhea, 5.3%, up 0.4%Sources: Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development and Georgia Department of Labor

Unemployment in Chattanooga grew last month from the historic low reached in April, but local employers continue to add jobs at a pace more than three times the national average.

The jobless rate in metro Chattanooga rose during May by two tenths of a percentage point to 3.0%, the Tennessee Department of Labor nd Workforce Development said Thursday.

Despite the uptick in the local jobless rate in May, Chattanooga area employers added a net 8,557 jobs over the past year, growing employment by nearly 3.1% in the past 12 months. Employment nationwide grew by more than 1.2 million jobs, or nearly 0.8%, in the 12 months ended in May.

Unemployment in Chattanooga remained below the comparable non-seasonally adjusted U.S. rate of 3.4% in May.

"We're still seeing a very healthy economy in Tennessee, especially in growing areas like Nashville and Chattanooga," said Dr. Bill Fox, director of the Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Tennessee.

Across Tennessee last month, unemployment rates were up in 90 of Tennessee's 95 counties.

"It's not unusual to see a minimal increase in local unemployment rates at the start of the summer season," Tennessee Labor Commissioner Jeff McCord said. "May is a month of transition; many high school and college graduates enter the workforce for the first time during the month and most school personnel start their summer break in May."

At 2.2 percent, Williamson County currently has the state's lowest unemployment rate. Unemployment in Hamilton County was only 2.9% in May - near the level economists regard as full employment where all workers with skills looking for work can find a job.

Clay County had Tennessee's highest unemployment rate in May at 5.4%, followed closely by Hancock and Rhea counties where unemployment last month averaged 5.3%.

Tennessee's statewide unemployment rate experienced a slight uptick in May to 3.3%. For three consecutive months, it remained at the all-time low of 3.2 percent but increased by 0.1 of a percentage point when compared to April's rate.

To the south in metro Dalton, Georgia, the unemployment rate last month dropped to a 12-year low in May as the Carpet Capital added an estimated 532 more jobs over the past year.

The jobless rate in metro Dalton declined by a tenth of a percentage point during May to 3.9% - the lowest unemployment rate for the two-county Dalton metro area since May 2007.

Dalton was the only one of the 14 metropolitan statistical areas in Georgia to see its unemployment rate fall last month.

Despite the addition of nearly 4,000 jobs since the Great Recession a decade ago, Dalton's employment is still 7,226 jobs behind the peak reached two decades ago when carpet mills were producing more carpets and rugs and more employees were required to staff the mills.

"May was a good month for Georgia," Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said in a statement Thursday. "Many of our local communities added more individuals to their workforce – which is what we needed to see happen."

Contact Dave Flessner at

Upcoming Events