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Dalton wages increasing

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DALTON, GA (WRCB) -

Despite double digit unemployment, Dalton, Georgia made the top 10 list for cities in which wages are quickly soaring.

Data from the Georgia Department of Labor shows Dalton now has a 10.7 percent unemployment rate, which is no longer among the highest in the country or state. Now we're learning those who are getting jobs are also getting higher pay checks. That might seem a little confusing, but local leaders say there's several reasons for it--- of course most of that controlled by the carpet industry.

"When you go through as long as downturn as we did, you get as high unemployment as 13-14 percent, everyone had to do things to get through that," Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce President Brian Anderson said.

It's been a rough five years for the self-proclaimed "Carpet Capital of the World." Plants shut down, or at least shrank down, one after the other. With the whole country in a recession, building almost stopped, putting thousands of people in the manufacturing town out of work.

Midway through 2013, leaders say the dust may finally be settling. Those same struggling manufacturers have come up with ways to stay in business. Many are adding other types of flooring, and using new technology to make it.

"Manufacturing has to become as lean as possible during the downturn and they found that they can do a lot with a lot less people," Anderson said.

That does not necessarily mean an abundance of jobs in Dalton right away, however, it does mean more money for the jobs that are created.

"This new technology requires a higher level of skill set so those people that are being hired in these jobs that go along with this new technology are being paid a higher wage," Anderson said.

The web site 24/7 Wall St. just listed Dalton as the ninth best U.S. city for wage increases. The last four years it had been dropping. Now it says there's a $58 a week pay increase, making the average weekly rate now $769.

"I think for our economy to survive, it needs to," financial adviser Ashlee Godfrey said.

"We took a little longer to bounce back but with as many jobs as we have in Dalton potentially, I'm not surprised with that to be honest with you," Nathan Fincher, who works in the carpet industry, said.

The chamber says the increasing wage rates will help recruit more companies to the area, and whittle down that unemployment rate.

In May, the company Engineered Floors announced its plans to create 2,000 jobs in the area. Several others are expanding. Anderson said some other companies are still being cautious, and waiting until the economy's been stable for a little longer before making any large investments.

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