Chattanooga’s unemployment rate rises in May but remains below US rate

Photo by Dave Flessner / The gas station chain 7-Eleven, which is planning to open new stations on Amnicola Highway and Highway 153 this summer, is among many retailers trying to hire more workers. Unemployment in the Chattanooga area edged higher in May but remained below the U.S. average.

Unemployment edged up last month in Chattanooga from the record low reached in April as school ended and more students entered the job market, but the local jobless rate remained below the U.S. average, according to new government figures.

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development said unemployment in metropolitan Chattanooga rose to 3.2% in May, up from 2.6% in May primarily because of seasonal factors. The comparable non-seasonally adjusted jobless rate for the United States last month was 3.4%, which was unchanged from April.

Over the past 12 months, employers in the 6-county Chattanooga metro area added a net 2,221 more jobs to their payrolls. Across all of Tennessee, employers have added 75,000 more jobs over the past year, according to state figures.

“For Tennessee, this is continued evidence that the labor market remains strong and that there are opportunities out there for those who want to work,” said Don Bruce, director of the Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Tennessee. “We continue to have a significant shortage of workers in the state.”

Tennessee Career Centers on Friday were advertising 370,191 open jobs, or more than three times the number of Tennesseans counted as unemployed last month. The Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce lists 2,398 available jobs on its website

Among Tennessee’s 95 counties, unemployment as the highest in Bledsoe and Scott counties at 5.3% last month. In the Chattanooga region, unemployment was lowest in Dade County where the jobless rate remained under 3%.

The unemployment rate fell the most in the Dalton area, where employers added 300 jobs last month and 1,200 jobs over the past year.

Although Georgia’s unemployment rate was up in May, Georgia Labor Commissioner Bruce Thompson said “Georgia’s economy and job market remains red hot” with historically low unemployment and jobless claims.


Unemployment rose in most area counties last month. The non-seasonally-adjusted May jobless rates were:

— Dade, 2.9%, up from 2.1% in April

— Catoosa, 3%, up from 2.3% in April

— Hamilton, 3.2%, up from 2.6% in April

— Walker, 3.3%, up from 2.6% in April

— Coffee, 3.3%, up from 2.7% in April

— Bradley, 3.5%, up from 2.8% in April

— Franklin, 3.5%, up from 2.7% in April

— Rhea, 3.5%, up from 2.8% in April

— Whitfield, 3.7%, down from 4.1% in April

— Sequatchie, 3.8%, up from 3% in April

— Polk, 3,9%, up from 3.2% in April

— Chattooga, 3.9%, down from 4% in April

— Marion, 4%, up from 3.1% in April

— McMinn, 4%, up from 3.6% in April

— Murray, 4.1%, unchanged from April

— Van Buren, 4.2%, up from 3.5% in April

— Meigs, 4.3%, down from 4.6% in April

— Grundy, 4.4%, up from 3.5% in April

— Bledsoe, 5.3%, up from 4.6% in April

Sources: Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Georgia Department of Labor

— Compiled by Dave Flessner