Posted by Marcie Hambrick, DALTON, GA -- Dalton gained notoriety recently as the city with the worst job loss in the Nation over a one year period. Previously known as a major carpet manufacturing hub, the economic downturn resulted in a number of plant closings and the subsequent loss of 4,600 jobs. To put this in perspective, jobs lost over the last year account for almost 15 percent of the city's 33,000 residents. Providence Ministries, the city's homeless shelter has been at full or overflow capacity for most of the last two years and provides between 400 and 500 hot meals daily to hungry people who can't find work.
Over half the children in the city now qualify for free or reduced school lunches and it has become increasingly common place to see families living out of their car and selling their possessions for food. Though city officials now boast a new industrial park, jobs are not plentiful for those left unemployed by plant closings. And despite concerted efforts by community organizations, demands for food and shelter far outstrip local resources.
While city officials remain hopeful about the area's economy, the carpet manufacturing jobs will not return. So for now the hunger sales continue.
Marcie Hambrick, MSW is a Doctoral student in Sociology at Georgia State University. She also teaches sociology at Georgia Northwestern Technical College and is the Director of New Leaf Outreach Anger Management and Family Services. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.