published Friday, July 24th, 2009

Georgia jobless rate keeps climbing

North Georgia's unemployment rate continued its steady upward climb in June.

Unemployment in the region hit 12.1 percent in June, up from 11.6 percent in May, the Georgia Department of Labor announced Thursday.

The statewide jobless rate rose to a record 10.1 percent, records show, staying above the national average of 9.5 percent for the 20th consecutive month.

The unemployment rate in the Dalton, Ga., area reached 13 percent in June, up from 12.5 percent in May, department figures show.

Dalton Mayor David Pennington said the new numbers were what he expected after the Pilgrim's Pride chicken processing plant laid off 300 employees.

"I really thought it might go up a little more than that," he said.

Mr. Pennington said loss of employment in the carpet industry continues to be the largest contributor to unemployment in the Dalton area.

"The carpet industry usually leads the country into recession and leads it out of the recession because it's so tied to the homeowners themselves," he said.

"Hopefully, we're going to start seeing a little better business over the next few months or year," Mr. Pennington said. "With the stock market going up, people will start to feel a little better and they will be, at least, remodeling their homes."

In Georgia, 483,394 people were unemployed and seeking employment in June, according to the Department of Labor.

The unemployment rate also continued to grow in Tennessee. The latest numbers from the Tennessee Department of Labor show the June jobless rate at 10.8 percent, up 1 percentage point from May.

Hamilton County increased by 0.6 percent to a rate of 9.3 percent, with 15,700 unemployed individuals, figures show.

"It's exactly what we expected. That doesn't mean it's good news," said Dr. Bill Fox, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Tennessee.

Dr. Fox said he expected statewide unemployment to continue to rise in the coming months and reach at least 11 percent.

"Even if employment stays exactly the same, the unemployment rate will rise anyway as the labor force grows," he said.

Dr. Fox said the one possible bright spot was that the rate of unemployment only increased by 0.1 percent between May and June.

"It's averaging going up by almost four-tenths a month," Dr. Fox said. "And going up only one-tenth is better than we've been experiencing."

about Kevin Hardy...

Kevin rejoined the Times Free Press in August 2011 as the Southeast Tennessee K-12 education reporter. He worked as an intern in 2009, covering the communities of Signal Mountain, Red Bank, Collegedale and Lookout Mountain, Tenn. A native Kansan, Kevin graduated with bachelor's degrees in journalism and sociology from the University of Kansas. After graduating, he worked as an education reporter in Hutchinson, Kan., for a year before coming back to Chattanooga. Honors include a ...

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