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After the jobless rate in Dalton, Georgia jumped to 20% in April, unemployment in the Carpet Capital fell nearly in half last month, the Georgia Department of Labor said Thursday.

But the 11.1% jobless rate for metro Dalton in May was still the highest among Georgia's 18 metro areas and triple Dalton's unemployment rate of a year ago when the jobless rate was only 3.8%.

The two-county Dalton metro area ended May with 6,516 unemployed persons, or 5,363 fewer unemployed workers than in April when much of the economy was shutdown. Metro Dalton includes Whitfield and Murray counties where more than half of all American-made carpet is produced.

Most carpet mills closed, at least temporarily, in response to shelter-at-home orders for non-essential businesses in early spring. While carpet production and other businesses have reopened, the economy remains slower than before the coronavirus pandemic spread to the United States earlier this year. Major carpet makers such as the Dixie Group reported a 50% decline in April sales of carpet.

Sales and production improved last month from April but remained below year-ago levels.

Employment grew in Dalton during May by 3,900 jobs to 62,800. But last month's employment total in Dalton was still down by 3,700 jobs from May of 2019.

Statewide, Georgia's unemployment rate fell from 12.6% in April to 9.7% in May as the state regained 144,877 jobs last month.

Jobless in May

Unemployment fell across Northwest Georgia last month:

* Dade County, 5.6%, down from 7.6%

* Catoosa County, 6.2%, down from 9.6% in April

* Walker County, 7.2%, down from 10.4% in April

* Murray County, 11.1%, down from 19.4% in April

* Whitfield County, 11.2%, down from 20% in April

* Chattoooga County, 12.7%, down form 16.% in April

Source: Georgia Department of Labor

"The fact that almost every single monthly indicator in May's job market report was positive shows great promise to Georgia's economy up ahead," Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said. "Seeing these monthly numbers begin to increase means that we are definitely heading back in the right direction."

The number of unemployment claims in Dalton went down by 46% in May to 15,017. But when compared to last May, claims were still up by a whopping 2,450%, Butler said.

Even with  a double-digit unemployment rate last month in Dalton, Georgia's online job listing service, employgeorgia.com, showed about 557 active job postings in metro Dalton during May.

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Dalton MSA Employment

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Among Georgia's metro areas, unemployment last month was lowest n Warner Robbins, Ga., at 7.1% and tied for the highest at 11.1% were Dalton, Brunswick and Savannah, Ga.

In Northwest Georgia, unemployment was lowest in the three counties along the Tennessee border that are included in metropolitan Chattanooga — Dade, Catoosa and Walker counties.

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