Jobless numbers hit new low in Crenshaw

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 14, 2005

Crenshaw County's unemployment rate remains steady at 4.6 percent and Doni Ingram, Executive Director of the county's Economic and Industrial Development Authority, expects that number to fall even more.

SMART Inc., she said, the county's largest employer, is seeking an additional 174 employees. Dongwon in Sardis is also seeking second shift workers. As of the May numbers released by the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations, there were only 265 people in Crenshaw County unemployed.

Ingram said there's been a three percent decrease annually in the population of Crenshaw County in the last two decades. She hopes with a revitalized job market, both former and new residents will begin moving back to the county.

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"We have the jobs and now we want to grow," she said. "We want to turn that cycle around and increase our population."

The big problem, currently, she said, is housing.

Luverne possesses limited housing options and affordable, quality apartments are virtually non-existent.

"For commercial development you have to have rooftops," said Ingram. "We are in the process of locating developers to build affordable single and multi-family establishments."

Ingram has a study conducted by the University of Alabama that shows Crenshaw County's population growing at eight percent over the next 10 years.

"The unemployment rate is at the lowest I've ever seen it and I've been here 12 years," she said. "We're well below the national average."

Ingram said just in the last decade there have been 1,225 new jobs created in Crenshaw County.

The state's unemployment average remained at 4.4 percent, unchanged from April. Last May, the state's unemployment rate was 5.7 percent. Nationally, the rate is 5.1 percent.

Butler County had an unemployment rate of 5.7 percent, while Pike, Coffee and Covington each averaged below four percent in unemployment. Lowndes possessed the highest rate among the surrounding counties at 7.8 percent, rising from 6.7 percent in April.