Editorial: Local unemployment rate improvement is a positive development

Borrowing from the cliche, the unemployment rate for Metro Dalton in April was cloudy with showers.

The unemployment rate for Metro Dalton in May was sunnier with flowers.

The jobless rate for Metro Dalton (Whitfield and Murray counties) fell from an astounding 20.6% in April to 11.1% in May, according to the state Department of Labor. The precipitous drop in our unemployment rate was a welcome site.

"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," said Commissioner of Labor Mark Butler. "Seeing these monthly numbers begin to increase means that we are definitely heading back in the right direction."

Metro Dalton ended May with 62,800 jobs. That number increased by 3,900 from April to May but was down by 3,700 when compared to the same time last year. The labor force decreased in May by 1,490 and ended the month with 58,440. That number is down 54 when compared to May 2019.

A large jump increase in our jobless rate wasn't a shock. All over the nation, job cuts, layoffs and furloughs have proliferated as the effects of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) continue to impact the global economy. We in "The Carpet Capital of the World" have been hit especially hard, as several major floorcovering companies voluntarily shut down manufacturing plants in hopes of slowing the spread of COVID-19. Some employees in the industry lost their jobs, faced mandatory furlough days or had their hours cut.

We certainly aren't out of the woods as COVID-19 numbers have spiked in many parts of the country. And although our jobless rate improved in May, we are tied for first with the highest rate in the state among Metropolitan Statistical Areas. Brunswick Area (Brantley, Glynn, and McIntosh counties), Metro Dalton and the Savannah MSA (Bryan, Chatham, and Effingham counties) are all at 11.1% unemployment.

Last month, our area received more good economic news as two floorcovering projects were announced, creating 540 total jobs.

Creative Flooring Solutions, a manufacturer of laminate, wood and luxury vinyl tile, will create 300 jobs and invest more than $70 million in a new manufacturing facility in Calhoun.

U.S.-based Wellmade Flooring will invest more than $35 million in expanding its manufacturing facilities to Cartersville in Bartow County, delivering 240 jobs to the area.

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