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County jobless rate

rising

By Jay Thomas

While state leaders touted the new low state jobless rate last week, Butler County’s unemployment rate continued its rise according to preliminary numbers.

Unemployment rose to 14 percent in June, up from 12.9 percent in May and up from 12.8 percent in May 2003.

This represents 1,430 people who are unemployed, which is almost 410 more than June 2003 with 1,250.

Janice Grayson, manager of the Alabama Employment Office in Brewton, said the applications for Tier One plant positions can impact the employment rate.

Grayson is working in the Greenville office on an as needed basis with the Steve Layfield being on leave.

&uot;We’ve had a lot of the Tier One plants taking a lot of applications in the past few months,&uot; she said. &uot;Sometimes, when a large number of applications are taken, it means the unemployment numbers go up.&uot;

It should be noted that Alabama Industrial Development Training asked for applications in late April and May, which could affect the June numbers.

Grayson said the openings potential in the area also play a part in the number because people, who quit looking for work, are back at it.

&uot;There is a percentage of that number in June who are returning to the job hunt,&uot; she said

&uot;They may have stopped looking for work and with the openings at the Tier One plants they have started looking for work again. That makes the number go up. It will take a little upward swing before coming back down.&uot;

As Layfield said last month, local construction workers at the plant may be waiting for their next job assignment and are receiving benefits.

Since many receive unemployment during their down time that plays a part in the number.

Grayson also said many people are concentrating on the Tier One suppliers, but that the local employment office has jobs with many and varied employers.

&uot;We have lots of employers in Butler County and the surrounding counties who are looking for employees at this time,&uot; she said. &uot;Also, those looking for work can come in and register for work in other counties.

Many industries use the employment service and we’ve got quite a few here.&uot;

As noted, the statewide number dropped to the lowest average all year. Alabama’s unemployment rate dropped from 5.9 percent in May to 5.3 percent in June, as the number of unemployed persons decreased by nearly 12,000.

&uot;Through six months in 2004, Alabama has posted its lowest unemployment rate of the year at 5.3 percent, which is also lower than the 5.9 percent jobless rate in June 2003,&uot; says

Phyllis Kennedy, director of the Alabama Department of

Industrial Relations. &uot;The latest unemployment rate represents 114,900 unemployed Alabamians. There were 126,700 unemployed in May and 125,700 in June 2003.&uot;