Jobs grow in Dalton, Georgia, but labor force shrinks


Unemployment fell to an all-time low last month across Northwest Georgia, but fewer workers are still in the labor market in some area counties compared with a year ago despite the best hiring market in history.

The Georgia Department of Labor said Thursday the jobless rate in metro Dalton dropped to 2.2% in November, its lowest rate in history.

From its peak of 19.8% reached in April 2020, when carpet mills and other plants and businesses temporarily shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, unemployment in the Dalton area has dropped by nearly 90%. Nonetheless, Dalton’s workforce still dropped by 104 people last month and remained 521 below the level of a year ago.

The labor force includes both those working and unemployed people looking for a job.

Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said the challenge for Georgia next year will be to entice more workers back into the labor market after the pandemic encouraged many to retire early, stay home with their families or just drop out of the job market for fear of being exposed to the virus.

“We are seeing the highest number of employed Georgians in our state’s history,” Butler said. “Looking towards the new year, our focus is on attracting more people to join the workforce in 2022.”

In the 1970s through the early 2000s, Dalton’s labor force grew along with the carpet industry, and Northwest Georgia attracted thousands of immigrant workers drawn to the U.S. and North Georgia by the abundance of carpet mill jobs. Production in the floor-covering industry has since become more productive with new technologies and market shifts, especially following the housing crisis in the 2008-2009 Great Recession. Tighter immigration policies have also limited the influx of foreign workers into the region.

Jobless in November

Unemployment fell to record lows across most of Northwest Georgia last month

* Catoosa, 1.6%, down 0.2% from October

* Dade, 1.6%, down 0.1% from October

* Walker, 1.8%, down 0.2% from October

* Whitfield, 2.1%, down 0.3% from October

* Murray, 2.3%, down 0.3% from October

* Chattooga, 2.6%, down 0.4% from October

Source: Georgia Department of Labor


From its peak of 66,601 workers in July 2006, the labor force in Dalton has dropped over the past decade and a half by more than 12.3%, cutting the number of people employed or seeking work in the area by 8,302.

The labor force closer to Chattanooga has still continued to grow, however.

The jobless rates in the North Georgia counties within Chattanooga metropolitan statistical area — Catoosa, Dade and Walker — were below 2% in all three counties and below the jobless rate of any county in neighboring Tennessee. The three counties collectively added 1,161 jobs over the past year, helping to lower the overall metro Chattanooga jobless rate last month to a record low of 2.7%, according to the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

Only Atkinson, Banks, Forsyth, Hall, Jackson, Oconee amd White counties in Georgia had lower jobless rates in November than the 1.6% jobless rate last month in Catoosa and Dade counties.

Contact Dave Flessner at or at 423-757-6340.


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