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County’s jobless rate falls to 7.5%

Butler County’s unemployment rate dropped from 8.9 percent in August to 7.5 percent in September, according to figures released Friday by the Alabama Department of Labor.

Butler County wasn’t alone.

Each county in the state saw their jobless rates drop, including Lowndes County, which saw its rate dip slightly from 12.8 percent to 12.5 percent.

“Every county in Alabama experienced a decrease in their unemployment rate this month,” Alabama Department of Labor Commissioner Fitzgerald Washington said. “Five counties with traditionally high unemployment rates saw their rates drop more than two percentage points.”

Monroe (-2.0), Dallas (-2.2), Sumter (-2.3), Wilcox (-2.3) and Perry (-2.8) counties all experienced decreases of more than two percentage points.

Butler County’s rate of 7.5 percent was nearly two points lower than it was in September of 2013 (9.2 percent).

The newest figures were released just days after local officials announced that Hwashin America is beginning a $34-million, 100,000 square-foot expansion at its Greenville facility that will result in the creation of 50 news jobs.

Hwashin currently employs 750 people.

At Monday’s announcement, Rod Cater, chairman of the Butler County Commission for Economic Development, said the expansion could reverberate in a positive way throughout the county, and not just those directly affected by the 50 new job opportunities.

“I’d also like to thank you not only for investing in the building and the jobs and the equipment, but also that it’s an investment in the community,” Cater said. “Of course, the people that are going to come to work are being impacted directly, but I think everyone in Butler County is going to be impacted indirectly.  You’re increasing and improving the quality of life right here in Butler County, and that’s so important.”

Statewide, the unemployment rate dropped to 6.6 percent, which is down from the 6.9 percent rate in August.

Gov. Robert Bentley credited the state’s economic development efforts for the decrease.

“The number of jobs employers reported in Alabama in September is the highest we have seen since December 2008, and that is thanks to the strong economic development efforts we have put in place to create jobs,” Bentley said. “Our economy is supporting more jobs today than it has in the past five years, and our efforts will continue until every Alabamian who wants a job has the opportunity to have one. September’s unemployment rate is the lowest rate we’ve seen in seven months, and we are confident that this trend will continue.”

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates are Shelby County at 4.3 percent, Lee and Cherokee Counties at 4.7 percent, and Blount County at 4.8 percent.

The counties with the highest unemployment rates are Wilcox County at 13.9 percent, Lowndes at 12.5 percent and Dallas at 12.1 percent.