Shhh! Don't tell those people who keep moving to the Chattanooga area to take advantage of manufacturing jobs or entrepreneurial experiences. The Scenic City is listed by a recent WalletHub analysis as having the lowest job growth of 150 cities in the United States.
Taken together with numerous other metrics, the city is tabbed only 139th of the listed 150 cities in the online personal finance resource's list of "2016's Best & Worst Cities to Find a Job."
However, that ranking doesn't match with what employers and those who work with employers, such as the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, have seen.
"We have one of the best places in the country to live, work and play," Bill Kilbride, president of the Chamber of Commerce, told Times Free Press reporters and editors last month, "and with the growth of Volkswagen and other businesses, we're seeing a real momentum in job growth, especially in family-wage jobs."
In fact, a 2015 study partially commissioned by the Chamber of Commerce showed that job growth in Hamilton County — already the second highest among Tennessee's counties in the past five years — will grow nearly four times faster in the next five years.
The study indicates the county should add 13,500 jobs between 2015 and 2020, up from the 3,573 it added in the past five years.
The WalletHub analysis, which was taken from data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Council for Community and Economic Research, the Center for Neighborhood Technology, and WalletHub research, lists Chattanooga as the only city in the mid-South in its bottom 12 and the only other city in the entire South in the bottom 12 besides Hialeah, Fla.
Nashville is ranked 57th among cities for finding a job, Knoxville 63rd and Memphis 137th.
Chattanooga's listing is especially curious considering the other metrics in WalletHub's two key dimensions of "job market" and "socioeconomic environment."
Although the dimension of socioeconomic environment is weighted less than that of job market in the analysis, and even though all the individual metric rankings are not listed, the city would be bound to rank high in the metrics of housing affordability, annual transportation costs, WalletHub "Families" Ranking and WalletHub "Recreation" Ranking, right?
However, the "Families" Ranking lists Chattanooga only 123 out of 150 cities, and the "Recreation" Ranking does not list the city in its top 100. Yes, the city voted by Outside magazine as its Best Town Ever for 2011 and 2016, ranked by The New York Times as one of The 45 Places to Go in the World in 2012, listed by Blue Ridge Outdoors as its Best Outdoor City in 2012 and ranked by The Wall Street Journal as one of the Best Places to Retire in 2015 does not make the "Recreation" list.
The city's weak points may have come in its unemployment rate of 5.2 percent, through November, which ranks it 234th among 387 cities, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (and which is double weighted in the analysis); percentage of employed residents living under the poverty line, which according to 2013-2014 data for all residents was 22.48 percent, much higher than the national average; and safety, or crime rate, which, no matter the data or source, is much higher than the national average.
Among the other metrics on which cities were judged were job opportunities, monthly median starting salary, industry variety, full-time employment, disability friendliness, median annual income, time spent working and commuting, and benefits.
Chattanooga is likely to be below a number of cities in monthly median starting salary and median annual income because its cost of living is so low. In fact, according to the Sperling's Best Places index, it is 12.30 percent lower than the national average.
In the final analysis, cities will be judged by different objective and subjective criteria. The analysis by WalletHub is just one opinion.
People who have seen Chattanooga transform in the last 25 years know where we were and where we are now. People who have moved here in the last 10 years for its manufacturing or entrepreneurial opportunities know where we are and where we can go.
Cities can always improve in various areas, but the majority of cities on WalletHub's list would love to trade places with Chattanooga with all that it has going for it in terms of prospects for finding a job.