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County#039;s jobless rate falls to 5.5

Butler County's unemployment rate dropped three-tenths of a point from 5.8 percent in January to 5.5 percent in February, according to statistics released this month by the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations.

The county's jobless rate from February 2005 was 7.3 percent.

Greenville councilmember Tommy Ryan said the recent trend downward in unemployment is encouraging to all Butler County citizens.

&#8220With the openings of Hyundai and suppliers, not only have more people been able to find work, but also at good wages with benefits,” he said. &#8220Obviously, this trend has a far-reaching effect for every one; from parts suppliers, restaurants, service industries, etc. We can thank our area and state leaders for taking the time and energy to persuade the newest employers to locate here.”

Ryan also said he hopes Kia's announcement to build a new automotive plant in West Point, Ga., will bring even more jobs to Butler County. Kia is owned by Hyundai and could utilize many of the same suppliers, including Hysco and Hwashin in Greenville, which the Hyundai manufacturing plant in Hope Hull uses.

&#8220Now is the time for students to take advantage of the educational opportunities through our school systems, which are more than ready to prepare them for success,” he said. &#8220If our work force is prepared, I believe there is no limit to the potential to the employment opportunities in our future. The bottom line is: Daddys and Mamas, get your children ready to go to school every day and learn.”

Across the state, the unemployment rate fell from 3.8 percent to 3.6 percent.

&#8220February's 3.6 percent unemployment rate is well below the 4.3 percent recorded a year ago,” says Phyllis Kennedy, Alabama Department of Industrial Relations director. &#8220In addition, the number of unemployed persons is nearly 13,000 less than last year.”

In surrounding counties, Crenshaw County had the lowest unemployment at 3.5 percent. Wilcox had the highest at 8.2 percent.

Nationally, the unemployment rate was 4.8 percent.