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Dalton, Georgia, is on hard times. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the nation’s carpet capital ranks second in its rate of job loss. Dalton’s unemployment rate jumped from 6.2% to 11.2%. Similarly, Elkhart, Indiana, has seen an increase in its unemployment rate from 10.6% to 15.3%, according to reporter Bill Torpy. Both are officially metro areas, but they are really small towns grown big by local industry — local industry that is now failing.
Dalton is famous for making tufted carpet, and with the collapse of the housing market, every industry that has anything to do with real estate is staggering. It appears, however, that the crush of the recession is hitting smaller towns hardest.
Dalton has been a place where coal miners located after mines closed. More recently, Hispanics have moved to Dalton to work the mills. Torpy reports that most people have never had to go to an interview for a job. They just went to work. In 2005, the mills were running 24 hours a day. The industry was that steady. But no longer. Store fronts are empty (above) and unemployment has risen…fast.