Local News

December 27, 2013

Area’s unemployment rate lowest since October 2008

The Georgia Department of Labor said Thursday that the unemployment rate for Metro Dalton — Whitfield and Murray counties — dropped to 9.4 percent in November, the lowest the rate has been since it was 9 percent in October of 2008.

The rate was 9.9 percent in October of this year and 10.8 percent in November a year ago.

Whitfield County Board of Commissioners Chairman Mike Babb greeted the news with cautious optimism.

“What I want to see is the number continue to decline into the new year,” he said.

The unemployment rate is based on surveys, counting the number of people working and looking for work. It is not based on unemployment claims.

The state Department of Labor said unemployment in the area dropped in November because the number of unemployed people decreased to 5,425, down from 5,729 in October. There were 6,422 unemployed in November 2012.

While the number of jobs in Dalton was unchanged at 63,800 from October to November, it was up by 700, or 1.1 percent, from 63,100 in November of 2012.

Babb said he believes the area’s unemployment rate will continue to fall in 2014 as more of the jobs announced by some of the area’s largest manufacturers come online.

Engineered Floors unveiled plans in May to invest $450 million in northwest Georgia over the next five years, including a plant now under construction in south Whitfield County, expected to create some 2,000 jobs.

In September, Shaw Industries announced a $100 million investment in Whitfield County, including expanding an extrusion plant in Dalton and building 535,000 square feet of new warehouse space just south of the city, that will add 175 jobs.

And Mohawk Industries announced earlier this month an $85 million conversion of plants in Dalton and Rome that will add 420 jobs over the next two years in Dalton and maintain 230 jobs in Rome.

Industry officials gave credit to a growing housing market, which is boosting demand for products.

“The commissioners are doing what we can to make Whitfield County more competitive and help it attract jobs through things such as 100 percent freeport (exemption on inventory taxes) and not imposing an excise tax on the energy used in manufacturing,” Babb said.

The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent in November from 8.1 percent in October. The rate was 8.7 percent in November a year ago.

Metro Athens had the state’s lowest area jobless rate at 5.1 percent, while the Heart of Georgia-Altamaha region had the highest at 10 percent.  

Local area unemployment data are not seasonally adjusted. Georgia labor market data are available at www.dol.state.ga.us.

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