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Unemployment in Dalton fell last month to its lowest level since 2007 as local employers added 1,200 jobs in Whitfield and Murray counties over the past year, state figures show.

The Georgia Department of Labor said today that the jobless rate in metropolitan Dalton declined in May by two tenths of a percentage point to 5.3 percent — the lowest rate since December 2007. Daton's unemployment rate in May 2015 was 6.6 percent.

The rate declined as employers created more jobs and more people were employed.

The number of jobs increased by 200, or 0.3 percent, to 69,000 in May. Most of the increase came in professional and business services, retail trade, and manufacturing.

Over the year, Dalton gained 1,200 jobs, a 1.8 percent growth rate, up from 67,800 in May 2015. Most of the job gains came in trade, transportation and warehousing, along with manufacturing.

Unemployment was even lower in the Chattanooga suburban counties of Northwest Georgia last month. The jobless rate fell to 4.1 percent in both Catoosa and Dade counties and to 4.6 percent in Walker county.

Dalton's labor force, which consists of people employed and those who are unemployed and actively looking for work, increased by 185 to 60,847. The number of employed people increased by 286, while the number of unemployed workers dropped by 101.

The number of initial claims for unemployment insurance declined by 254, or 24.2 percent, to 796 in May. Most of the decrease came in manufacturing. However, over the year, claims were up by 277, or 53.4 percent, from 519 in May 2015.

Among Georgia's major metropolitan areas, Gainesville had the lowest area jobless rate at 3.8 percent, while Columbus had the highest at 5.7 percent.

Georgia's seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate for May was 5.3 percent, down from 5.5 percent in April. It was 5.9 percent in May 2015.

In May, the Georgia Department of Labor said it listed 63,508 available jobs on its online job listing service, www.employgeorgia.com.

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