Jobless rate jumps to 9 percent

Published 4:50 pm Tuesday, December 23, 2008

An uncertain national economy continues to have an affect on Alabama’s unemployment rate, which rose to 6.1 percent in November according to the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations.

October’s revised jobless rate was 5.5 percent. Last year, the unemployment rate was 3.7 percent.

Butler County’s unemployment rate jumped to 9 percent, up from 8.4 percent in October. That reflects Chapman Forest Products decision to layoff some 70 people due to the poor state of the lumber market.

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The national unemployment average was 6.7 percent in November as employees slashed more than 500,000 jobs, the fourth-worse decline since February 1939.

“While we are experiencing an increase in our unemployment rate, it is important to note that Alabama is in much better shape than other states,” said Tom Surtees, ADIR Director. “This is due to the fact that Alabama has seen exceptional job growth over the past six years. We have seen net job increases of over one hundred thousand since 2003. This increase has enabled us to weather this economic downturn better than some states.”

November’s unemployment rate represents an increase of 10,983 additional unemployed persons, according to the ADIR.

Meanwhile, President-elect Barack Obama is preparing an $850 billion economic stimulus plan to push through Congress when he takes office in January. During a meeting with President-elect Obama earlier this month, Gov. Bob Riley and other state governors discussed ways to jumpstart the economy.

While some governors are asking for billions of federal dollars to repair outdated infrastructure, Riley said he favors tax cuts and fiscal responsibility above all.

“If new government spending was the key to preventing recessions, then we’d never have a recession,” Governor Riley said. “States are taking action to reduce or cut spending and the federal government should follow our lead on this.”

Riley announced his Deficit Prevention Plan last week, which included a prorated education budget and hiring freeze for all state departments.