Unemployment in Tennessee fell to an all-time low while the number of Georgians on the job rose to a record high last month.
The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development said Thursday that the state's jobless rate dropped another tenth of a percentage point to 3.3 percent — the lowest level since the state began tracking state unemployment rates in their current form in 1976.
Tennessee employers have added 52,200 jobs over the past year, helping to lower unemployment in the Volunteer State a full percentage point below the national rate of 4.3 percent.
"To see the unemployment rate decrease nearly every month in 2017 is a positive sign," said Burns Phillips, commissioner for the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development. "The fact Tennessee's unemployment rate has dropped three times as fast as the national unemployment rate is remarkable."
To the south, Georgia's jobless rate of 4.7 percent in August remained above the U.S. jobless average, reflecting the severity of the drop in jobs during the Great Recession in Georgia and its slower recovery in the immediate aftermath of the downturn. But in the past year, Georgia's employment growth of 116,400 jobs, or 2.7 percent, was still nearly double the U.S. employment growth of 1.4 percent.
Georgia set a record in August for total jobs, surpassing 4.5 million for the first time. Other key indicators like new unemployment claims, increasing workforce and the total number of employed residents showed Georgia's economy continues to be strong, Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said.
"The August numbers show Georgia's economy and outlook for employment remains healthy," he said. "Georgia continues to be one of the leaders in job creation and employment. It's great to see our employers continue to create jobs. But it's even better to see more Georgians going back to work."
Jobless claims in Georgia could rise this month due to business disruptions from Hurricane Irma, which forced Gov. Nathan Deal to declare a state of emergency in all Georgia counties earlier this week. But such storm-related job losses will only be temporary and repair work should spur an increase in labor demand once power is restored across the state.
Unemployment in the Peach State last month was the lowest since August 2007 when unemployment was only 4.6 percent in Georgia.
By 2010, the jobless rate in Georgia rose to 10.5 percent during the depths of the last downturn.
Unemployment rose even higher in Tennessee during the Great Recession, jumping to 11.1 percent in June 2009 before beginning an 8-year decline.
But this summer, Tennessee and North Dakota both set new records for the lowest unemployment rates in history. The Volunteer State has reduced its joblessness three times faster than the nation as a whole during the past 12 months, Phillips said.
A year ago, Tennessee's jobless rate was 4.8 percent.
Contact Dave Flessner at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 423-757-6340.
This story was updated Sept. 14 at 10:30 p.m. with more information.