published Friday, March 11th, 2011

Chattanooga area jobless rate rises

Dalton leads area with 13%; Chattanooga up to 9.1%


by Brittany Cofer
Lisa Haddock breaks down into tears while talking about her misfortunes while at the Tennessee Career Center. She is divorced, lost her house and is unemployed, yet still finds the courage to come search for jobs at the career center.
Staff Photo by Allison Carter/Chattanooga Times Free Press
Lisa Haddock breaks down into tears while talking about her misfortunes while at the Tennessee Career Center. She is divorced, lost her house and is unemployed, yet still finds the courage to come search for jobs at the career center. Staff Photo by Allison Carter/Chattanooga Times Free Press

JANUARY UNEMPLOYMENT RATES

• Metro Chatanooga: 9.1 percent jobless rate, up from 8.3 in December

• Metro Cleveland: 10.3 percent jobless rate, up from 8.9 in December

• Metro Dalton: 13 percent jobless rate, up from 12.4 in December

Sitting at a small circular table, a phone book in her lap and a spiral-bound notebook with scribbles of company names in front of her, Lisa Haddock continues a tireless search for a job.

She sits within the Tennessee Career Center on Brainerd Road in hopes of finding work, worrying what will happen when her unemployment checks run out in two weeks. Since September, she’s lost her job, her house and gone through a divorce from her husband of 17 years.

“It’s horrible,” she said, bringing up a hand to shield the tears flowing down her face. “I’ve even thought about going on the side of the road with a sign that says, ‘Will work for job.’ I just want an honest payday and to be able to provide for myself.”

Thousands like Haddock are also searching for jobs, as the jobless rate ticked up in both Tennessee and Georgia in January, according to data released Thursday by each state’s labor department.

Georgia reached an all-time high of 10.4 percent unemployment for the second time since it first reached that level in January 2010, continuing a 40-consecutive-month trend exceeding the national rate, which was 9 percent in January and fell to 8.9 percent in February.

In Dalton, the January rate climbed another six-tenths of a percent to 13 percent — the highest rate among Georgia’s 14 metropolitan areas.

In Tennessee, January unemployment rose to 9.5 percent, up 0.1 from December.

Area decline for year

For the year, unemployment fell in the metropolitan Chattanooga area — which includes Hamilton, Marion and Sequatchie counties, as well as a portion of North Georgia — from 9.7 percent in January 2010 to 9.1 percent in January 2011. However, from December to January the non-seasonally adjusted rate was still up by eight tenths of a percent.

In Cleveland, Tenn., joblessness shot up 1.4 percent in January to 10.3 from 8.9 percent in December.

“Overall, the pattern of movement on a year-over-year basis is in the right direction,” said Matt Murray, professor of economics at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. “It’s a very positive trend.”

One of the people who has benefited from the positive trend is Capt. C. Walker, who was hired as a security guard in December for American Citadel Guard. After being out of work for close to a year, he was hired in a managerial position where he is now able to give others the opportunity for employment.

Earlier this week, he took a trip to the unemployment office in Brainerd to search for applicants to fill two spots, saying he’d hire someone right there if they had the proper credentials.

“In this economy, it’s just hard to get jobs,” Walker said. “That’s why I can sympathize.”

Applicant pool resurgence

But as the tides turn and job prospects improve, Murray said, a trend that seems to make no sense will likely take shape.

“When jobs start picking up, the unemployment rate will rise,” he said.

That’s because discouraged workers who are unemployed but no longer actively seeking employment aren’t considered part of the labor force. As the job market picks up, these people once again begin an active search for employment and are added to the total unemployment rate, he said.

Still, Murray said downward trends are a good sign for the economy.

“We’re moving in the right direction, and at a faster pace than anticipated,” he said.

about Brittany Cofer...

Brittany Cofer is a business reporter who has been with the Chattanooga Times Free Press since January 2010. She previously worked as a general assignment Metro reporter. In the Business department, she covers banking, retail, tourism, consumer issues and green issues. Brittany is from Conyers, Ga., and spent two years at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Ga., before transferring to the University of Georgia. She graduated from the university’s Grady College of Journalism in December ...

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westwood said...

I own a small business in Chattanooga with five employees. We’re often told that small businesses employ most workers and drive the economy, if that’s true then perhaps my experiences are relevant. My business isn’t directly impacted by unions or teachers or firemen. My business stopped growing when banks stopped lending. The bankers say they have the money and they would lend the money but their regulators have become so strict that it’s nearly impossible to lend. I’ve been forced to borrow from private lenders who aren’t regulated, but charge interest rates four or five times what banks would charge. So I have to limit growth, and employees, because I’m spending too much on interest.

derf32 has his grand theory and I have mine: everything in our economy is tied to the cost of fuel. Sadly, the price of fuel is now about where it was when the economy fell apart a few years ago – I think we’re in for a serious depression if we can’t regulate fuel prices. I heard that our worldwide daily fuel supply is bought and sold eight times each day by speculators. So instead of blaming the legislators for union busting, I prefer to blame the legislators for kowtowing to the free market capitalists who insist that gambling with the global fuel supply is good for society.

March 11, 2011 at 9:30 a.m.
hambone said...

Don't look to the republicans to do anything about jobs as long as they have their hearts set un getting rid of Obama they will make it hard on everyone but Wall Street.

March 11, 2011 at 5:15 p.m.
jhtalisman said...

While the brunt of this story is on the depressing subject of unemployed people who have done nothing wrong, don't let the story of Lisa break your heart. She lost her husband because she was/is an alcoholic, he put her through rehab and had enough. She lost her house in the divorce. She has 3 grown children. She's been arrested due to domestic threats against her thankfully soon to be for my family's sake ex-husband.

March 13, 2011 at 6:04 p.m.
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