Unemployment declined over most of Northwest Georgia last month, but metropolitan Dalton maintained the highest jobless rate among major cities in Georgia.
Dalton's unemployment rate in November was 12.7 percent, down from 12.8 in October. Nearly one of every seven Dalton workers still is unemployed, according to the Georgia Department of Labor.
On Wednesday, the department said unemployment in the suburban counties just south of Chattanooga remained below both the state and national averages in November.
But counties around Dalton, whose carpet industry slowed with the housing market, maintained their double-digit jobless rates despite some seasonal job gains.
"We've seen a little improvement, but clearly Georgia's job market is in the midst of an unprecedented downturn and it looks like we are going to be in a period of slower growth for a while," Georgia Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond said.
With the state's seasonally adjusted jobless rate at 10.2 percent in November, Mr. Thurmond announced Wednesday that his department will conduct its first major job summit on Jan. 18 at Georgia Tech.
The forum will focus on ways to identify how training and health care programs can better help displaced workers transition to new jobs.
With tax revenues also stalled, Mr. Thurmond said the state will have to follow the advice of his cotton-growing father to "make do with what you have."
Dalton Mayor David Pennington said the city continues to suffer from the housing slowdown, but he said the city still imports workers to staff its carpet mills, "so the situation isn't as bad as the numbers might suggest."
The Georgia Department of Labor reported that metro Dalton lost 5,400 jobs, or 7.4 percent of its employment, during the past year. In the past month, preliminary figures from the state indicate that the number of Dalton workers out of a job dropped by two, from 8,054 in October to 8,052 in November.
Statewide, employment dropped by 192,400 jobs, or 4.7 percent, in the past year. For 24 of the last 25 months, Georgia's unemployment rate has exceeded the national unemployment rate, which was 10 percent in November, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
* Catoosa County: 8.1 percent, up by 0.8 percent
* Chattooga County: 11.8 percent, down 1.6 percent
* Dade County: 8.5 percent, down 0.2 percent
* Walker County: 9.4 percent, down by 0.3 percent
* Whitfield County: 12.8 percent, down 0.1 percent
* Georgia: 9.9 percent, down 0.3 percent
Unemployment figures not seasonally adjusted
Source: Georgia Department of Labor