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Jobless rate continues to drop

Recent figures show that the rate of unemployment in Butler County is lower than it has been in nearly five years.

"The county's rate of unemployment has reached it's lowest level since 1996," said Ricky McLaney, director of the Butler County Commission for Economic Development. "Our rate in December was 7.9 percent, which is the lowest it has been since May of 1996, when it was 7.3 percent.

"The good news is that it will continue to drop, when other businesses that are developing in the area start operations," he said.

Alabama's 4.6 percent unemployment rate for December is a slight decline over the previous month's 4.7 percent rate.

"There were 1,200 fewer unemployed Alabamians in December than in November," says Alice McKinney, director of the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations. "Seasonal gains in retail trade occupations account for the most significant aspect of the modest upturn in employment."

The December rate represents 10O,900 unemployed persons, compared to 102,100 in November and 103,000 in December 1999. Alabama's jobless rate in December 1999 was 4.7 percent. The comparable national unemployment rate for December remained at 4.0 percent, unchanged from November.

The majority of job gains in Alabama during the past year continued to be found in the service producing sector. Construction jobs rose by 600 over the year, while factory jobs declined by 9,000.

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates were: Shelby (1.2 percent), Blount (2.0 percent), Tuscaloosa (2.2 percent), Clebume (2.3 percent), and Madison (2.4 percent). Counties with the highest jobless rates were: Washington ( 12.5 percent), Bullock ( 12.3 percent) Perry (11.3 percent), Winston (10.5 percent), and Wilcox (9.9 percent).