Georgia is the nation’s unchallenged leader in making carpet. A recent downtown in carpet sales has had a small impact on employment in the Dalton area. Bob Andres bandres@ajc.com
Photo: Bob Andres
Photo: Bob Andres

Slow carpet sales leads to Dalton plant closing

Shaw Industries will close a Dalton factory this spring, as consumers continue to shift away from residential carpet to hardwood and tile flooring.

Shaw said 275 workers will lose their jobs at the plant — which will close in May — though the workers will be offered positions at other company facilities. The cuts at Shaw are a tiny portion of its total workforce, about 1% of 22,000 total employees.

Shaw will move the plant’s production of residential carpet to other facilities that have “expanded capabilities and newer equipment,” the company said in a Wednesday news release.

Shaw has been a drag on the financial performance of its parent company, investor Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. The Omaha, Neb., company said in November that lower earnings from Shaw offset profit growth in its building products division in the third quarter. Berkshire Hathaway does not break out details of Shaw’s results.

Other Dalton-area carpet makers have recently cut jobs as carpet sales lag, including Mohawk Industries and Engineered Floors. Carpet unit sales in the U.S. were down about 7% in November 2019 on a yearly basis, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported, citing Floor Focus magazine. But another area company, Mannington Mills, added 200 jobs in 2018.

While unemployment in metro Atlanta has recently hit historic lows, other parts of Georgia have struggled to add jobs. Metro Atlanta’s economy added 66,700 jobs last year, about the same number of jobs added statewide in 2019.

Dalton’s December unemployment rate of 4.7% was the highest of Georgia’s 13 largest metro areas. Dalton added about 500 new jobs last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The carpet industry employs about 50,000 workers in Georgia, according to the Carpet and Rug Institute, an industry trade group. About 85% of all carpet in the U.S. is made within a 65-mile radius of Dalton.

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