National job gains for March fell a bit short of expectations, but local job seekers may be better positioned than others around the country to find jobs.
“Based on what we’re seeing locally, employers are feeling more optimistic and want to add to their teams,” Kevin Green with Chattanooga staffing agency Robert Half Finance & Accounting said. “Tennessee’s unemployment rate is a little lower than the national average at 8.0 percent, and we’ve seen small improvements each month, so we’re not very concerned.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday that the economy added 120,000 jobs in March, down from more than 200,000 in each of the previous three months.
The unemployment rate fell to 8.2 percent, the lowest since January 2009.
But leaders attribute the drop to the fact that fewer people searched for jobs. The official unemployment rate only includes those who are actually seeking work.
“ Locally, we’re seeing a competitive general job market, but candidate shortages are also emerging in some specialties, particularly at the higher skill levels and in high-demand areas such as accounting and finance and information technology,” Green said.
Despite the shortfall in expectations for March, the economy has experienced the best four months in hiring in two years, according to The Associated Press.
The AP also reported that a mild winter may have influenced the disappointing job numbers for March.
January and February were unseasonably warm, which meant that construction firms and other companies that do outdoor work hired earlier than usual, the AP reported.
Still, some economists, such as Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, fear that the economy is not growing fast enough, according to The Associated Press.
Green said that job seekers need to do their best to stand out and network as much as possible.
“Meet as many people as you can through traditional and online networking,” he said. “You never know who you could meet that will help you land your next job.”