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County sees unemployment rate climb

Butler County’s unemployment rate climbed slightly in January from 7.2 percent to 7.8 percent.

It was not alone. All 67 counties in the state saw their unemployment rates rise, according to figures released on Tuesday by the Alabama Department of Labor.

While the county saw its number of unemployed residents increase from December to January, its rate of 7.8 percent is still below the 10.4 percent rate it had in January of 2014.

Sixty-six of 67 counties experienced drops in their unemployment rates over the year.  Only Colbert County saw an increase of 0.2 percentage points. Wilcox County, which neighbors Butler County, saw a drop of 5.4 percentage points from January of 2014 to January of 2015.

Despite seeing all 67 counties have an increase in their unemployment rates, the state had a slight decrease in its rate. Alabama’s seasonally adjusted rate for January is 6 percent, which is down from 6.1 percent in December and 7.2 percent in January of 2014.

“January’s rate marks 14 months with no increase in our unemployment rate,” Gov. Robert Bentley said. “For the past two months, more than 2 million people are working in this state, which hasn’t happened since November 2008. We continue to remain hopeful that our economy is turning around and Alabamians are gaining employment.”

The number of people reported as employed by the Current Population Survey (CPS) in January is 2,006,903, and 2,001,069 in December of 2014.  The last time this number was equal to or higher was November 2008, when the number of people reported working was 2,007,253, according to figures released by the Alabama Department of Labor.

“Our economy is supporting the largest number of jobs since 2008,” Alabama Labor Commissioner Fitzgerald Washington said. “The annual increase in jobs, year over year, is the second highest we’ve experienced in the past decade. That’s certainly great news and shows that Alabama’s employers are continuing to hire.”

According to the establishment survey, over the year, wage and salary employment increased by 37,400, with gains in the professional and business services sector (+9,700), the leisure and hospitality sector (+6,900), and the trade, transportation, and utilities sector (+6,600), among others.

The only time the year over year growth was higher was January 2006, when growth was 45,100.

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates are Shelby County at 4.2 percent, Lee County at 5.2 percent, and Elmore, Tuscaloosa, and St. Clair Counties at 5.3 percent.

Wilcox County had the state’s highest unemployment rate at 14.9 percent, followed by Greene County and Clarke Counties at 11.8 percent and Lowndes County at 11.5 percent.