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County, state see drop in jobless rates

Butler County’s unemployment rate dropped slightly in August as some jobs were added, but the labor force also shrunk.

The county’s unemployment rate was 9.1 percent last month, down from July’s rate of 9.4 percent, according to figures released Friday by the Alabama Department of Labor.

The number of people employed in Butler County last month was 8,240, up from 8,232 in July and 8,065 in August of 2013.

The overall labor force, which includes workers and those actively seeking employment, was 9,062 last month, down from 9,086 in July, but up from 8,931 in August of 2013.

The state also saw a slight drop in its jobless rate.

Alabama’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted August unemployment rate is 6.9 percent, down from July’s rate of 7 percent.

“August’s unemployment rate drop is good news for Alabama,” Gov. Robert Bentley said. “We’ve seen more jobs come online, and those jobs are being filled by people who want to work.  The Alabama workforce is strong, and our commitment to job creation is just as strong. Our job recruitment efforts will continue until every Alabamian who wants a job has the opportunity to find one.”

Wage and salary employment rose in August by 9,400.  Monthly gains were seen in the professional and business services sector (+4,200), the construction sector (+2,300), and the government sector (+1,800), among others.  The number of construction jobs the economy supported this month (83,400) marks the most that particular sector has seen since December 2010 (83,500).

“This month’s unemployment rate reflects what usually happens as the summer winds down,” Department of Labor Commissioner Fitzgerald Washington said. “The slight decrease in the labor force reflects people going back to school and no longer searching for work.  Additionally, increases in jobs in local government and decreases in jobs in the leisure and hospitality sector further reflect the anticipated trend of people leaving summer employment and returning to school-related jobs.”

Crenshaw County, which neighbors Butler County, saw its unemployment rate drop to 6.6 percent in August from 7.4 percent in July.

Lowndes County’s jobless rate held steady at 12.9 percent, while Wilcox County rate dropped by nearly 2 percent. It fell from 18.3 percent to 16.4 percent.

“All but two counties saw their unemployment rates decrease in August,” Washington said. “Dallas, Greene, and Wilcox Counties, which are traditionally the counties with some of the highest unemployment rates, all saw their unemployment rates drop by nearly 2 percent – the largest decreases in unemployment rates in the entire state this month.”

Wilcox still has the highest unemployment rate in the state — 2 percent higher than Perry and Dallas Counties.

The counties with the lowest unemployment rates are Shelby County at 5.1 percent, Blount County at 5.7 percent, and Cullman, Lee, and Baldwin Counties at 5.8 percent.