Unemployment in the Chattanooga area last month fell to the lowest rate for August on record as employers in the 6-county area added more than 7,400 jobs over the past year.
The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development said Thursday that the jobless rate in metropolitan Chattanooga fell by six-tenths of a percentage point during August to 3.4%. Unemployment also declined by a full percentage point in metro Cleveland, Tennessee to 3.8% and dropped by two tenths of a percentage point in metro Dalton to 4.3%.
"In this economy, pretty much everyone who wants to work has a job," said Mark Campbell the owner of Manpower staffing offices in Chattanooga, Cleveland and Athens, Tennessee. "I've been in this business for 27 years and I've never seen it this way before. There is a lot of demand for workers right now and I don't see that subsiding anytime soon."
The non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was lower in Chattanooga, Cleveland and Dalton, Georgia this spring when the labor force was also smaller. But employment rose again last month to record highs and remained below the comparable non-seasonally adjusted U.S. rate of 3.8%.
Over the past 12 months in the Chattanooga area, employment grew by nearly 2.9%, or nearly double the nationwide average growth rate.
Unemployment rates declined last month in all 95 counties in Tennessee.
"To see lower rates in every county across the state is always a positive sign coming out of the summer months," Tennessee Labor Commissioner Jeff McCord said Thursday. "Many counties saw unemployment decrease by more than a percentage point in August, while several dropped by two percentage points."
The jobless rate was above 5% in only a handful of Tennessee counties, including Rhea County where unemployment in August was the third highest of any county in the state at 5.4%. But even in Rhea County, the jobless rate fell last month by 1.4 percentage points from the 6.8% rate reached in July.
In the Chattanooga area, unemployment was lowest again last month in the Northwest Georgia county of Catoosa at 3.2%. Across all of Georgia total employment rose to a new high.
"It's good to see so many of our communities doing well," Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said. "We continue to add jobs at a record rate and see claims for unemployment fall.
For Campbell, the low jobless rate has forced Manpower "to go where the workers are" and not wait for prospective employees to come to Manpower offices. Campbell said he bought a 20-passenger former party bus from Atlanta and uses it to promote Manpower at festivals and other events where potential workers may be gathered.
"I did take out the stripper pole, but it's a fun van and we take it out to try to attract more people to know about and hopefully sign up for one of the jobs we are trying to fill," he said.
Contact Dave Flessner at email@example.com or at 757-6340.
Jobless in August
Unemployment rates for August fell from the July levels in most counties in and around Chattanooga:
* Catoosa, Ga. - 3.2%, unchanged
* Coffee - 3.3%, down 0.8%
* Franklin - 3.3% , down 0.9%
* Hamilton - 3.4%, down 0.7%
* Walker, Ga. - 3.5%, down 0.1%
* Bradley - 3.7%, down 1.0%
* Dade, Ga. - 3.7%, up 0.3%
* McMinn - 3.8%, down 1.1%
* Grundy - 3.9%, down 1.8%
* Chattooga, Ga. - 4.0%, down 0.5%
* Whitfield, Ga. - 4.2%, down 0.2%
* Polk - 4.3%, down 1.2%
* Van Buren - 4.3%, down 1.4%
* Marion - 4.4%, down 1.0%
* Sequatchie - 4.4%, down 1.1%
* Murray, Ga. - 4.8%, down 0.2%
* Bledsoe - 4.9%, down 1.1%
* Rhea - 5.4%, down 1.4%
Sources: Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Georgia Department of Labor