Jobless rate climbs

Published 4:34 pm Friday, August 15, 2014

Alabama’s unemployment rate rose in July to its highest level in nearly two years, according to figures released by the Alabama Department of Labor on Friday.

Alabama’s unemployment rate for July was 7 percent. The state’s jobless rate hasn’t been that high since October of 2012.

While the unemployment rate increased, so did the number of available jobs during the course of the last year. According to the Alabama Department of Labor, 19,400 jobs were added by business across the state.

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“An increase of nearly 20,000 jobs since last July is something that we are proud of,” Gov. Robert Bentley said in a statement. “A large number of those jobs are in the manufacturing sector, which tend to be higher paying jobs. Additionally, we continue to see tens of thousands of jobs being advertised throughout the state, which means employers are hiring. Our efforts will continue until every Alabamian who wants a job has the opportunity to have a job.”

In Butler County, Kajan Perfection and Ozark Materials have both announced expansions since July of 2013 that have created additional jobs.

However, the latest jobless rate figures showed Butler County’s unemployment jump to 9.4 percent from 8.6 percent in June. The latest rate is lower than the 10 percent rate the county had in July of 2013.

“It’s not uncommon in the summer months to see the unemployment rate rise because school employees aren’t working during those months,” said Fitzgerald Washington, Alabama Department of Labor commissioner. “This is proven out in our wage and salary data this month, which shows the largest decrease in jobs came from the local education sector.”

Crenshaw County and Lowndes County, which neighbor Butler County, also saw their unemployment rates climb.

Crenshaw’s rate increased from 6.6 percent to 7.4 percent, while Lowndes saw its rate jump to 12.9 percent from 11.9 percent.

The counties with the lowest unemployment rate are Shelby County at 5.3 percent, Baldwin County at 6.1 percent and Lee County at 6.2 percent.

The counties with the highest unemployment rates are Wilcox County at 18.4 percent, Dallas County at 16.3 percent and Perry County at 15.7 percent.