Jobless in March
Unemployment in March was down from the February levels in all 19 area counties
* Hamilton, 4.5 percent, down 0.3 percent
* Bradley, 4.5 percent, down 0.1 percent
* Coffee, 4.6 percent, down 0.2 percent
* Franklin, 4.8 percent, down 0.2 percent
* Polk, 5.5 percent, down 0.3 percent
* Sequatchie, 5.7 percent, down 0.7 percent
* Marion, 5.8 percent, down 0.4 percent
* McMinn, 5.8 percent, down 0.2 percent
* Van Buren, 5.9 percent, down 0.3 percent
* Grundy, 6.0 percent, down 0.4 percent
* Bledsoe, 7.2 percent, down 0.3 percent
* Meigs, 7.9 percent, down 1.2 percent
* Rhea, 8.3 percent, down 0.4 percent
* Catoosa, 4.4 percent, down 0.2 percent
* Dade, 4.5 percent, down 0.5 percent
* Walker, 4.7 percent, down 0.3 percent
* Chattooga, 5 percent, down 0.3 percent
* Whitfield, 5.6 percent, down 0.2 percent
* Murray, 6.3 percent, down 0.7 percent
Sources: Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development and Georgia Department of Labor
Chattanooga area employers added 5,860 jobs over the past year, but unemployment in the metropolitan area last month was still up from a year ago due to an influx of 6,640 workers into the labor market in the past year.
The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development said Thursday that the jobless rate in the six-county Chattanooga area declined in March to 4.6 percent, or three tenths of a percentage point less than the February rate of 4.9 percent.
Chattanooga's jobless rate last month was below both the comparable U.S. and statewide unemployment rates, although joblessness in the Chattanooga area was still up from the 4.4 percent rate reached a year ago.
"By any measure, Tennessee's economy is doing well, especially in our urban areas, and as the job market improves more people are encouraged to enter the workforce or to move to Tennessee," said Dr. Bill Fox, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Tennessee.
Even with more workers seeking jobs, employers looking for workers say they are having to dig deeper into the labor pool for workers and wages are being bid up to attract workers as the labor market tightens.
Mark Campbell, owner of the Manpower franchise in Chattanooga, said Chattanooga's labor market is as tight as he has seen in his 25 years in the business.
"It's difficult to find enough workers for the available jobs, especially with more employers doing drug screens and background and employment checks," he said. "The economy is rebounding and everyone I know is looking to hire people right now and we're just trying to find them."
Campbell said wages in many demand jobs have jumped 10 percent in the past year.
Employment in the Chattanooga area grew to a record high of 252,350 in March, which was up nearly 2.4 percent from a year ago and 10 percent higher than seven years earlier at the depths of the Great Recession, according to the state job figures released Thursday.
Across the Chattanooga region, unemployment was lowest in Catoosa County, Ga., at 4.4 percent and highest in Rhea County at 8.3 percent. Although its jobless rate dropped by four tenths of a percentage point during March, Rhea County still had the highest unemployment rate of any of Tennessee's 95 counties last month.
Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@times freepress.com or at 423-757-6340.
Upcoming job fairs
* The Georgia Department of Labor’s (GDOL) LaFayette Career Center will host a job fair next Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for Quality Staffing to hire 100 entry-level quality control employees to work in Rock Spring. The jobs will begin at $11 an hour.
* Nissan Brake in Lafayette, Ga., is recruiting 60 full-time manufacturing employees at a job fair next Thursday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Fort Oglethorpe City Hall, 500 City Hall Drive. Nissin is recruiting for casting technicians, industrial equipment maintenance workers and machine operators for jobs paying from $11 to $24 an hour.
* A job fair is set for Thursday May 11 from 3-7 p.m. at the Walker County Civic Center to hire workers for employers Amedisys Home Health and Hospice Care, Audia Plastics, Clumpies Ice Cream, Coca Cola, Dixie Collision, Dollar General, EnviroGuard, Hammer Down OC, Hayes State Prison, Jimmy Simpson Foundation, Komatsu America Corporation, Lake Winnepesaukah, Lookout Mountain Community Services, Mohawk Industries, Primary Health Care Centers, Quality Machine, Rock City, Roper Corporation, Ruby Falls, Sprint, Shaw Industries, Vanguard National Trailer Corporation, Victory Sign Industries, LTD., Walker County Emergency Services, Walker County Sheriff Department, Walker State Prison and Walmart.