Jobless rates rise for state, county

Published 5:01 pm Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Alabama’s unemployment rose slightly in January.

According to figures released by the Department of Labor, the state’s unemployment rate was 6.9 percent for the month, up from 6.8 percent in December, but down from 7.3 percent in January of 2012.

January’s figure marked the second consecutive month the state’s unemployment rate has been below 7 percent.

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“The long-term trend in Alabama’s unemployment rate is encouraging news,” Gov. Robert Bentley said. “We have seen a steady decline in unemployment over time. Dozens of industries are choosing to build and expand in Alabama, and the result is more people are going back to work. There is still much work left to be done, however, until Alabama reaches full employment, and our efforts to recruit more jobs will continue.”

Butler County, which recently received news that Hwashin America will add an additional 30 employees to go along with a $25 million expansion, also saw an increase in its unemployment rate.

The county’s January jobless rate was 11.4 percent. Its December rate was 9.9 percent. January’s rate was also up from the January 2012 rate of 10.6 percent.

Across the state, January’s rate represents 148,724 unemployed persons, compared to 145,613 in December and 158,040 in January 2012.

The rate is up slightly from December 2012’s revised rate of 6.8 percent.  December 2012’s preliminary rate was originally announced as 7.1 percent.  January 2012’s revised rate was 7.3 percent.

“This is certainly a positive trend,” Alabama Department of Labor Commissioner Tom Surtees said. “However, we still have more than 140,000 Alabamians who want to work, and we have to remain focused on helping them find and keep a job.”

Revisions conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a division of the U.S. Department of Labor, indicated that 10 months of 2012 actually had lower unemployment rates than were initially reported.  August and October 2012 both saw decreases of a full percentage point. The preliminary rate for August was 8.5 percent, which was revised to 7.5 percent, and October’s preliminary rate was 8.1 percent, which was revised to 7.1 percent.

“The revisions point to conclusions that we’ve been advocating for a while,” Surtees said. “We have seen a pattern of lower initial unemployment compensation claims, increased numbers of active job orders on our jobs database, and fewer companies are reporting layoffs. These factors all contribute to a better employment picture in the state.”

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates are Shelby County at 5.4 percent, Blount County at 6.4 percent and Madison County at 6.6 percent.

Counties with the highest unemployment rates are Wilcox County at 17.4 percent, Lowndes County at 14.5 percent and Bullock, Perry, and Dallas Counties at 13.9 percent.