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Chattanooga area employers added a net 5,944 more jobs over the past year, helping to keep the region's jobless rate last month near its historic low reached in April.

Despite a drop of 450 jobs from September to October, unemployment in the 6-county metro Chattanooga area still remained constant last month because the labor force dropped even more, with 590 fewer persons on the job or looking for work.

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development said Thursday that the jobless rate in metro Chattanooga was unchanged from September to October at 3.0%, which was below the comparable non-seasonally adjusted 3.1% in the rest of Tennessee and 3.3% nationwide during October. Chattanooga's unemployment fell to an all-time low of 2.8% in April, but has been at or above 3% each month since.

Across Tennessee, unemployment during October fell in 38 counties, rose in 33 counties and was unchanged in the other 24 counties.

"The vast majority of Tennessee's counties had continued low unemployment in October," Tennessee Labor Commissioner Jeff McCord said in the monthly jobs report. "The ebb and flow of the statistics in several areas will likely return to more typical numbers in the coming months."

Jobless in October

In the 18-county Chattanooga region, the non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose in seven counties, fell in six counties and was unchanged in five others.

* Catoosa County, Ga., 2.6%, unchanged from the previous month

* Dade County, Ga., 2.8%, unchanged from the previous month

* Walker County, Ga., 2.9%, up 0.1% from the previous month

* Coffee County, 2.9%, down 0.2% from the previous month

* Hamilton County, 3.0%, unchanged from the previous month

* Bradley County, 3.2%, down 0.1% from the previous month

* Franklin County, 3.2%, unchanged from the previous month

* McMinn County, 3.4%, down 0.1% from the previous month

* Polk County, 3.5%, down 0.3% from the previous month

* Meigs County, 3.7%, down 0.1% from the previous month

* Chattooga County, 3.7%. up 0.3% from the previous month

* Grundy County, 4.1%, up 0.4% from the previous month

* Marion County, 4.1%, up 0.1% from the previous month

* Sequatchie County, 4.2%, up 0.1% from the previous month

* Whitfield County, Ga., 4.2%, up 0.5% from the previous month

* Van Buren County, 4.3%, up 0.7% from the previous month

* Rhea County, 4.6%, down 0.4% from the previous month

* Bledsoe County, 4.7%, unchanged from the previous month

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

Statewide, Tennessee's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate held steady in October at 3.4%, remaining below the U.S. rate of 3.6% last month. The current rate is still very close to the all-time low of 3.2%, which the state recorded earlier this year.

"Month after month, we continue to see Tennessee's unemployment rate hold steady, very close to the all-time historic low, and that's great news," Tennessee Labor Commissioner Jeff McCord said.

To the south in Georgia, employers added 72,200 jobs over the past year, helping to cut the jobless rate in the Peach State last month to 3.4%, tying the lowest rate in 20 years in Georgia.

But unemployment in metro Dalton edged higher in October with staff cuts in the Carpet Capital, where carpet sales have been stagnant or declining this year compared with the robust sales of 2018. The jobless rate in the Dalton area during October rose by 0.7% to 4.4% and was the highest jobless rate of any of Georgia's 14 metro areas last month.

A new state economic forecast released Thursday by the Economic Forecasting Center at Georgia State University projects employment will grow in the Peach State next year by only about 49,700 jobs next year. The study predicts GDP growth to drop to 2.3% in 2019, then decline to 1.5% in 2020 and improve to 1.8% in 2021.

The slowdown will dampen the "catalyst" sectors that lead the Georgia economy, so a lower share of new positions will be high-paying, "quality jobs," said Rajeev Dhawan, chief economist at Georgia State's Robinson College of Business.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 757-6340.

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