The county's unemployment rate was 9.8 percent in February, according to a Georgia Department of Labor report released Thursday. The rate increased from 9.6 percent in January and 8 percent in February last year.
Cherokee had the second-lowest unemployment rate in metro Atlanta, trailing only Fayette County's 9.4 percent. Cherokee's labor force increased slightly in February, rising from 107,737 in January to 107,833 last month. The number of employed people dropped slightly from 97,436 in January to 97,304 in February.
Misti Martin, president of the Cherokee Office of Economic Development, said none of Cherokee's major employers have been a victim of the economy. She said her office has received some good prospect activity lately, adding that the recently approved opportunity zone, a tool that allows local governments to provide tax incentives for new jobs created, along Highway 92 in southwest Cherokee, is helping the county get more exposure.
"That has given us a boost in prospect activity," she said. "It has helped us tremendously."
Nathan Smith, of New Horizon Home Services and member of the chamber's board of directors, said the growing rate could be a reflection of economic hard times but sees some hope in the future.
"I see people a little bit more confident," he said, adding that people are a little more willing now to spend money. "All that is going to translate into good things."
Alan Thompson of Mojo Productions and a member of the chamber board said the high rate could be attributed to the continued building downturn.
"Everything else in Cherokee seems so positive," he said, adding that confidence is catching on with other people. "The people I have talked to have some degree of optimism."
The metro Atlanta unemployment rate was 10.8 percent, the same as the rate in January and up from 8.8 percent in February last year.
Statewide, the rate was 10.5 percent, a small increase over 10.4 percent in January and up from 8.7 percent in February of last year.
The national rate was 9.7 percent, remaining unchanged from January. The national rate in February last year was 8.2 percent.
Other unemployment rates in the region include: Bartow at 12.2 percent, Clayton at 12.7 percent, Cobb at 10.1 percent, DeKalb at 10.7 percent, Douglas at 11.7 percent, Fulton at 11 percent, Gwinnett at 9.9 percent, Henry at 10.9 percent, Paulding at 11 percent and Rockdale at 12.2 percent.