Unemployment rates rise for state, county

Published 2:53 pm Friday, March 29, 2013

For the second consecutive month Alabama saw a rise in its unemployment rate.

Figures released by the Alabama Department of Labor on Thursday revealed that the state’s unemployment rate increased to 7.2 percent in February, up from 6.9 percent in January.

“While we did experience a slight uptick in the unemployment rate this month, we also saw an increase in the number of people working, both over the past month and the past year,” Alabama Department of Labor Commissioner Tom Surtees said. “We’ve also seen an increase in the number of people in the work force. This tells us that some people are regaining confidence in the job market and are looking for work again.”

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Butler County also saw a rise in its unemployment rate.

The county’s February jobless rate is 11.6 percent, up from 11. 4 percent in January, and 10.9 percent from February of 2012.

Despite the rise in the county’s unemployment rate, Greenville Mayor Dexter McLendon, who also serves as the chairman for the Butler County Commission for Economic Development, said there’s reason to be positive.

He pointed to the recent announcements of expansions at Hwashin America in Greenville and Coastal Forest Products in Chapman.

On March 7, Hwashin announced it will add an additional 30 employees to go along with a $25 million expansion. On Thursday, Coastal announced a $20 million expansion that will create an additional 50 new employees at its Chapman facility.

“We’ve got some good things going on in around here,” McLendon said. “Those expansions show that the economy is slowly beginning to turn around.”

Surtees said statewide there has been an increase in the number of available jobs in manufacturing and leisure and hospitality.

The counties with the lowest unemployment rates in February were Shelby County at 5.6 percent, Lee County at 6.4 percent, and Blount County at 6.5 percent.

The counties with the highest unemployment rates in February were Wilcox County at 17.6 percent, Lowndes County at 14.5 percent, and Dallas County at 13.8 percent.