County’s jobless rate falls

Published 1:59 pm Friday, December 20, 2013

Alabama’s unemployment rate has dropped to a five-year low of 6.2 percent, according to figures released Friday by the Alabama Department of Labor.

The state’s jobless rate dropped from 6.4 percent in October.

The 6.2 percent rate matches a five-year low that was also achieved in July and August.

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Labor Commissioner Tom Surtees said seasonal retail hiring helped lower the unemployment rate.

“This traditionally happens during the months of November and December as employers prepare for the Christmas shopping rush,” he said.

All 67 counties in the state saw a drop in unemployment during the month of November.

Butler County saw its jobless rate drop from 9 percent in October to 8.1 percent in November.

“I’m excited,” Greenville Mayor Dexter McLendon said. “You just don’t normally see a drop that big. I’m sure some of it has to do with businesses hiring employees for Christmas, but I’m just excited about these numbers. This is good news.”

The 8.1 percent rate is 1.5 percent lower than it was in November of 2012.

The drop continues a positive trend for the county.

Butler County’s 9 percent jobless rate in October was down from 9.3 percent in September, and 10.4 percent in October of last year.

“The long-term trend in Alabama’s unemployment rate is encouraging news for Alabamians who want a job,” Gov. Robert Bentley said. “Every Alabama county has a decrease in their unemployment rate for November, and that is a sign that Alabamians are getting back to work in both rural and urban areas of Alabama. There is still much work left to be done, however, until Alabama reaches full employment, and our efforts to recruit more jobs will continue.”

According to Surtees, the jobless rates for Alabama’s counties may best illustrate the jobs picture in the state.

“The decline in the county unemployment rates, which range from at least a half a percentage point to nearly two, may present a clearer picture of what is actually going on throughout Alabama as the county data are not seasonally adjusted,” said Surtees.

“Seasonal adjustment” refers to Bureau of Labor Statistics’ practice of anticipating certain trends in the labor force, such as hiring during the holidays or the surge in the labor force when students graduate in the spring, and predicting their effects of the unemployment rate.  The not seasonally adjusted data show the number of people working in a county, with no seasonal factors imposed.

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates were: Shelby County at 3.6 percent, Lee County at 4.5 percent, and Cullman, St. Clair, and Cherokee Counties at 4.7 percent.

Counties with the highest unemployment rates were: Wilcox County at 13.9 percent, Bullock County at 11.9 percent, and Perry and Dallas Counties at 11.1 percent.