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County, state see jobless rates drop

Butler County’s unemployment rate for October dropped to 6.9 percent from 7.5 percent, according to figures released by the Alabama Department of Labor.

October’s rate also showed improvement over October of 2014 when the county’s jobless rate was 7.3 percent.

Neighboring counties Crenshaw, Lowndes and Wilcox all saw their unemployment rates fall. Crenshaw’s dropped from 5.6 percent to 5.5 percent, while Lowndes saw its rate dip from 11.7 percent to 11 percent. Wilcox had the biggest decrease of unemployment among the four counties. Its rate fell from 15 percent to 13.3 percent.

Statewide, the preliminary, seasonally adjusted October unemployment rate is 5.9 percent, down from September’s rate of 6.0 percent, and below October 2014’s rate of 6.2 percent.

“More jobs are being created, Alabama’s unemployment rate continues to drop and our economy is growing,” Gov. Robert Bentley said. “The wage and salary employment is at its highest level for the year.  It has not been this high in almost seven years.  We are one step closer to full employment, and my effort to create jobs will continue until every Alabamian who wants a job has an opportunity to have one.”

Wage and salary employment increased in October by 7,200 to 1,965,000.  Monthly gains were seen in the government sector (+3,800), the professional and business services sector (+2,600), and the trade, transportation, and utilities sector (+2,200), among others.

Over the year, wage and salary employment increased by 21,100, with gains in the leisure and hospitality sector (+5,200), the education and health services sector (+4,700), and the professional and business services sector (+3,800), among others.

The last time wage and salary employment was at this level or above was in November 2008, when it was 1,970,900.

“Not only are we seeing the highest wage and salary employment numbers of the year, we’ve also surpassed 2015 growth expectation by nearly 8,000 jobs,” Alabama Department of Labor Commissioner Fitzgerald Washington said. “Economists forecasted wage and salary growth of 33,800, and we’ve already seen growth of 41,700 through October alone. We still have two months to go, and those are traditionally strong due to holiday hiring. The counties continue to show improvement, as well. All 67 counties experienced decreases in their unemployment rates over the month, and only one county registered an increase over the year.”

Choctaw County is the only county to register an increase in its unemployment rate over the year, rising from 7.8 percent to 8.4 percent. All other counties saw decreases over the month and either no change or decreases over the year.

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates are: Shelby County at 4.0 percent, Lee County at 4.5 percent, and Elmore and Cullman Counties at 4.8 percent.

Wilcox, Lowndes and Clarke County (10.6 percent) had the highest unemployment rates in the state.