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Staff photo by Erin O. Smith / Robert Hensley asks questions about sales positions during a job fair put on by EPIC Talent Solutions Wednesday, August 22, 2018 at the Chattanooga Times Free Press in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Hensley said he had been in pharmaceutical sales his whole life.

Jobless in July

* Catoosa County, Georgia, 3.5 percent, down 0.2 percent

* Dade County, Georgia, 3.5 percent, down 0.4 percent

* Hamilton County, 3.9 percent, down 0.1 percent

* Coffee County, 3.9 percent, down 0.1 percent

* Walker County, Georgia, 4.0 percent, down 0.1 percent

* Franklin County, 4.0 percent, down 0.2 percent

* Chattooga County, Georgia, 4.1 percent, unchanged

* Bradley County, 4.2 percent, down 0.2 percent

* McMinn County, 4.5 percent, down 0.2 percent

* Polk County, 4.7 percent, down 0.2 percent

* Whitfield County, Georgia, 4.8 percent, up 0.2 percent

* Sequatchie County, 4.9 percent, down 0.1 percent

* Meigs County, 5.2 percent, down 0.1 percent

* Marion County 5.5 percent, down 0.1 percent

* Grundy County 5.6 percent, down 0.1 percent

* Murray County, Georgia, 5.7 percent, up 0.5 percent

* Van Buren, 5.7 percent, down 0.7 percent

* Rhea County, 6.3 percent, up 0.1 percent

* Bledsoe County, 6.9 percent, up 0.3 percent

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

Chattanooga area employers added 9,836 new jobs over the past year, cutting the non-seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate in the 6-county Chattanooga metropolitan area last month to 4 percent.

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development said the jobless rate edged down a tenth of a percentage point in metro Chattanooga during July to stay below the comparable statewide unemployment rate of 4.1 percent and the U.S. rate of 4.2 percent, not adjusted for seasonal fluctuations.

Over the past 12 months, employment in the Chattanooga area has grown at a healthy 3.8 percent pace, or more than twice the rate of growth for the nation as a whole.

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Staff photo by Erin O. Smith / Michelle Miskelly fills out job applications for administrative positions during a job fair put on by EPIC Talent Solutions Wednesday, August 22, 2018 at the Chattanooga Times Free Press in Chattanooga, Tennessee. About 300 job seekers attended the event Wednesday.

Job gains were less robust in the neighboring Cleveland, Tennessee and Dalton, Georgia metro markets, but those cities also have reported steady job gains over the past year. Unemployment fell in metro Cleveland, Tennessee during July by 0.2 percent to 4.2 percent but rose by a similar amount in Dalton, Georgia to reach a 5 percent jobless rate.

"The summer months significantly impact the unemployment situation across the state," Tennessee Labor Commissioner Burns Phillips said in a report on the latest job numbers. "People are not working seasonal jobs, they're out of town and not able to work, or they've just graduated and are looking for work. There are many factors that play a role in summer unemployment figures."

Although employers are having to go deeper into the well of workers to add to their staffs in Chattanooga, job applicants are still showing up at local job fairs in strong numbers. At a hiring event Wednesday by EPIC Talent Solutions at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, more than 450 workers applied for jobs being offered by the 46 employers who participated in the all-day job fair.

Workers are having more choices about where they want to work. The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development currently lists 175,185 job openings, or 31 percent more jobs than the total number of unemployed persons in Tennessee last month.

Across Tennessee, the unemployment rate declined during July in 57 counties, increased in 19 counties and was unchanged in 19 counties.

Bledsoe County had the second highest jobless rate in Tennessee in July at 6.9 percent, behind only Weakley County's 7.6 percent jobless rate for July.

Once again, Williamson County had the lowest unemployment rate in Tennessee at 2.9 percent. Eight of the top 10 Tennessee counties with the lowest unemployment surround Davidson County.

The Nashville metro area reported a jobless rate last month of only 3.2 percent — one of the lowest unemployment rates among the top metro cities in the South.

In the Chattanooga region, joblessness was lowest in Catoosa and Dade counties in Northwest Gergia at 3.5 percent.

To the south in the Carpet capital in Dalton, the jobless rate climbed to 5 percent — the highest among the 14 metro areas in Georgia. But Dalton's unemployment rate last month was still down from the 5.5 percent rate a year ago with the addition of 1,300 jobs over the past year in Whitfield and Murray counties.

"Georgia continues to be in a period of sustained growth," Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said. "There are not indicators in July that Georgia's growth in going to slow down anytime soon."

Contact Dave Flessner at or at 757-6340