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County’s unemployment rate climbs

For the second month in a row, Butler County saw a slight increase in its unemployment rate.

According to figures released Friday by the Alabama Department of Labor, Butler County’s jobless rate for July was 8.4 percent. That’s up from 8.1 percent in June, but still remains lower than the 9.2 percent unemployment rate it had in July of 2014.

Neighboring counties, Crenshaw, Lowndes and Wilcox also saw upticks in their unemployment rates.

Crenshaw saw its rate go from 6.3 percent to 6.5 percent, while Lowndes saw its rate climb to 13.2 percent from 12.7 percent and Wilcox’s rate increased from 16.1 percent to 16.2 percent — the highest in the state.

While 46 of the state’s 67 counties saw an increase in their unemployment rates, Alabama Department of Labor Commissioner Fitzgerald Washington said the latest figures show a positive trend.

“Over the year, 66 counties experienced a drop in their unemployment rate, and the 67th county saw no change. This is excellent news,” said Washington. “Every single Alabama county is doing better now than they were one year ago.”

Choctaw County was the only county that did not see a drop in its rate, which remained unchanged.

The state had a seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 6.2 percent in July, up slightly from June’s rate of 6.1 percent. Alabama’s jobless rate in July of 2014 was 6.6 percent.
Seasonal adjustment refers to the 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 removing their effects to the civilian labor force.

Alabama’s non-adjusted jobless rate is 6.8 percent.

“We continue to show strong yearly growth in our jobs numbers as reported by Alabama employers,” Gov. Robert Bentley said. “Employment is up by more than 30,000, and is at its highest point for the same time period since 2008.  This is a strong indicator that employers are continuing to hire, and we are getting closer and closer to the two million mark – numbers that reflect pre-recession employment in Alabama.”

Over the year, wage and salary employment increased 30,700 to 1,945,600, with gains in the education and health services sector (+10,400), the professional and business services sector (+5,600), the leisure and hospitality sector (+5,400), and the construction sector (+3,800), among others. The last time wage and salary employment was equal to or greater than 1,945,600 was in July 2008, when it was 1,989,000.

Monthly gains were seen in the professional and business services sector (+1,600), the education and health services sector (+1,200), and the trade, transportation, and utilities sector (+800), among others.

“The reason that our unemployment rate is virtually unchanged is mostly due to continued seasonal effects,” said Washington. “It is not uncommon to see stagnant or increased unemployment rates during the summer months, as many education employees remain out of work.”

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates are Shelby County at 4.6 percent, Elmore and Baldwin Counties at 5.6 percent, and Cullman and St. Clair Counties at 5.7 percent.

Wilcox, Lowndes and Clarke County (13.5 percent) have the highest unemployment rates in the state.