For first time in six months county’s jobless rate drops

Published 9:16 am Friday, December 18, 2009

Butler County’s jobless rate dropped to 16.4 percent from 17 percent, the first decrease in the unemployment rate experienced by the county since April of this year, according to data released by the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations on Friday.

Overall, the state’s unemployment rate decreased from 10.9 percent to 10.5 percent between the months of October and November.

“We are certainly glad to see a drop in the unemployment rate, but we need to keep in mind that a one month drop is not a trend,” said Surtees. “I also want to take this opportunity to remind everyone about the services to assist the unemployed and underemployed that are available at our area Career Centers throughout the state,” Surtees added. “The trained employees at the Career Centers can provide assistance in finding a job, getting trained for a job, or finishing a high school education, along with many other valuable resources.”

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The county’s rate should decrease even more in January when it Coastal Forest Products is expected to re-open the Chapman mill. The company will employ an expected 200 additional employees making $9 to $20 per hour, according to CFO Travis Bryant. At maximum production, Coastal will employ between 260-270 persons.

“It’s a pretty aggressive timeline, but it looks like we’re going to be there,” Smith told the Rotary Club of Greenville during a recent meeting. “We’ve commenced interviews and we’re searching day and night for our management staff as well.”

Surrounding counties, like Butler, are still feeling the pinch of unemployment. Wilcox and Monroe counties have the highest unemployment in the state at 24.3 percent and 21.1 percent, respectively. Conecuh has a 19.9 percent jobless rate, while Lowndes is at 15.7 percent. Crenshaw (9.7) and Covington (9.5) is the lowest of surrounding counties.