published Friday, December 20th, 2013

Greater Chattanooga area jobless rates fall but still above U.S. average

Buoyed by the strongest yearly job growth in eight years, Georgia's unemployment rate fell last month to its lowest rate in five years.

Joblessness also fell during November in Tennessee, although unemployment in the Volunteer State last month was still above the year-ago level and well above the U.S. average.

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development said Thursday that the state's jobless rate fell four-tenths of a percent in November to 8.1 percent.

Although Tenessee has added 39,200 jobs over the past year, Tennessee's job gains didn't match the growth in the number of people seeking jobs over the past year. A year ago, Tennessee's 7.7 percent jobless rate was below the U.S. average. But the 8.1 percent rate in Tennessee last month was 1.1 percent above the national rate of 7 percent.

Unemployed Tennesseans looking for jobs say it's still hard to find work.

Carlos Taylor, out of work since Nov. 22, was a machine operator when he suddenly lost his job a month before Christmas.

"We went to work that morning," he recalled. "I was working and I kept seeing them call people in. Then they called me in and said we need to talk to you. "We laid you off." "

Taylor said he is trying to learn about computers "so if I can't get a job in my field I can go back in another field."

Delain Kilgore, unemployed since end of October, was operations manager at a small trucking company that closed.

"This is a bad time of year to be trying to find a full-time job," he said. "Companies are cutting back. I have resumes out and I check with friends."

The job market is rebounding stronger in Georgia, which has added 91,200 jobs, or 2.3 percent, since November 2012. Georgia's jobles rate declined four tenths of a percent in November to 7.7 percent. That's the lowest rate since November 2008.

"The rate is down because of strong job growth and a very good drop in new claims for unemployment insurance benefits," Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said. "The number of new jobs is the best October-to-November growth since 2007 and the number of new claims is the lowest for any month since September 2007. Both of these numbers pre-date the recession."

Butler said the state showed job gains across nearly all industries.

But displaced workers insist that employers are still very selective with their hiring.

Courtney Jackson, out about two months, has a background in warehouse, fast food and general labor but she is willing to do most anything in a new job.

"But even just finding a fast food job is hard," she said.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 7857-6340 or Shelly Bradbury at sbradbury@timesfreepress.com or 757-6525.

about Shelly Bradbury...

Shelly Bradbury covers police and crime in Chattanooga and Hamilton County for the Times Free Press. She's been with the paper since 2012, working first as an intern and then as a business reporter. She is from Houghton, New York, and graduated from Huntington University in Huntington, Indiana, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and minor in management. Before moving to Tennessee, Shelly previously interned with The Goshen News, The Sandusky Register and The Mint ...

about Dave Flessner...

Dave Flessner is the business editor for the Times Free Press. A journalist for 35 years, Dave has been business editor and projects editor for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, city editor for The Chattanooga Times, business and county reporter for the Chattanooga Times, correspondent for the Lansing State Journal and Ingham County News in Michigan, staff writer for the Hastings Daily Tribune in Nebraska, and news director for WCBN-FM in Michigan. Dave, a native ...

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