By the numbers
County unemployment rates for November 2011:
Forsyth — 7.1 percent
Cherokee — 7.7 percent
Dawson — 8.3 percent
Fulton — 9.6 percent
Gwinnett — 8.2 percent
Hall — 7.7 percent
Source: Georgia Department of Labor
Forsyth County continues to have one of the lowest unemployment rates in Georgia.
According to the latest figures from the Georgia Department of Labor, Forsyth’s unemployment rate fell from 7.7 percent in October to 7.1 percent in November.
That’s down nearly an entire percentage point from November 2010, when the rate was 8.2 percent.
Randall Toussaint, the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce’s vice president of economic development, attributed the situation to the community at-large.
"One unique thing we have here is a really strong relationship with all our community partners," Toussaint said. "They all have the mind-set that we’re all in this together.
"That’s helped to bring in new companies and in our work with existing companies."
State labor numbers show a rate of 8 percent for the Georgia Mountains Region, which includes Forsyth and 12 other northeast Georgia counties: Banks, Dawson, Franklin, Habersham, Hall, Hart, Lumpkin, Rabun, Stephens, Towns, Union and White.
Total unemployment for Georgia for November was 9.3 percent, down from 9.9 percent in October and 10.3 percent in November 2010.
The national rate is 8.2 for November, down slightly from 8.5 in October.
According to the labor statistics, Forsyth is faring better than all of its neighbors.
Hall and Cherokee counties each posted rates of 7.7 percent, while Gwinnett’s was at 8.2 percent.
Dawson had a rate of 8.3 percent, while Fulton’s was 9.6 percent.
That state labor department attributed Georgia’s lower rate primarily to an increase in new jobs.
According to the department, Georgia added 22,400 jobs from October to November, with most of those coming in retail trade.
Other areas of growth included education, health care and business and finance services.
Toussaint said Forsyth County has seen an increase of more than 1,000 jobs in 2011.
"We’ll be closing the year with just under 1,020 new jobs," he said.
Toussaint added that most of those jobs can be attributed to growth in several "target industries." The fastest growing area is health care.
"Northside [Hospital-Forsyth] has had major expansions, and we’ve added St. Joseph’s and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta to our community," he said. "All of these facilities have allowed us to emerge as a hub for the health care industry."
Toussaint said 2011 has also brought "a re-emergence" in the retail sector.
He pointed to developments such as the 72,000-square-foot Academy Sports store at The Avenue Forsyth, and more merchants at Vickery Village on the county’s west side.
"We’re also seeing the re-emergence of the small business," Toussaint said. "Our Small Business Services Center worked with a number of local business owners from the planning stages to bringing their businesses into reality this year."
Another area that continues to grow locally is international businesses.
"This year, we’ve seen several companies move their U.S. headquarters to Forsyth," said Toussaint, who noted that 2012 will begin with some 60 international businesses in Forsyth.
For 2012, he foresees continued economic recovery. "If this past year is any indicator, we’ll hopefully continue to see conservative growth in 2012 and beyond."