WASHINGTON: Although employment growth in the Chattanooga area continued to outpace the statewide average, Chattanooga’s jobless rate in July was unchanged from the previous month and was slightly higher than the Tennessee average. The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development said Thursday that 4.3 percent of all workers in the six-county Chattanooga area were out of work last month, unchanged from June’s rate. In metro Cleveland, Tenn., unemployment dipped by two tenths of a percentage point to 4.2 percent while the jobless rate was unchanged in metro Dalton, Ga., at 5.4 percent. Over the past 12 months, Chattanooga area employers added 8,846 net new jobs, growing employment by 3.5 percent from July 2016 to July 2017. That was more than twice the pace of employment growth statewide in the same period, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Statewide, Tennessee’s non-seasonally adjusted jobless rate dropped by a tenth of a percentage point to 4.1 percent during July and the state’s seasonally adjusted rate fell to an all-time low of 3.4 percent last month. “We have the lowest unemployment rate in history and a record number of Tennesseans working today,” Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam told the Chattanooga Rotary Club Thursday. “Our state GDP is growing by the first or second fastest in the country and one of the reasons for that is that people like our low-tax and fiscally responsible environment with the lowest per capita state debt of any state in the country.” Since Haslam took office in 2011, Tennessee has added more than 200,000 net new jobs as the U.S. economy has rebounded from its worst economic downturn since the Great Depression in the 1930s, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In Southeast Tennessee, unemployment last month was lowest in Hamilton, Bradley and Coffee counties at 4.1 percent in Hamilton County and highest in Rhea County at 7 percent. Statewide, the jobless rate was lowest in metropolitan Nashville, which also has been leading the state in job growth in recent years.