Jobless rate inches up

Published 1:43 pm Friday, January 22, 2016

Butler County’s unemployment rate ticked upward slightly from 7 percent in November to 7.3 percent in December, according to figures released by the Alabama Department of Labor on Friday.

Neighboring counties Lowndes and Wilcox also saw an increase in their jobless rates. Lowndes saw its rate rise from 10.6 percent to 10.7 percent, while Wilcox saw its rate jump significantly from 13.7 percent to 15.3 percent.

Crenshaw County saw its rate fall from 6 percent to 5.9 percent.

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The state also saw its seasonally adjusted unemployment rate climb from 6 percent to 6.2 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.

The unadjusted rate for December was 5.8 percent, up from 5.6 percent in November.

“Although a slight increase in the unemployment rate is never celebrated, this month’s increase is attributed to the fact that the labor force increased by nearly 10,000, while people were out looking for work, seasonal or otherwise,” Alabama Labor Commissioner Fitzgerald Washington said. “December’s labor force count was on par with the summer months, which is traditionally when the most people are searching for work. Increases in the labor force represent increased confidence in the job market.” The civilian labor force measured 2,154,771 in December, up from 2,145,762 in November, and significantly up from 2,130,694 in December 2014 (seasonally adjusted).

Wage and salary employment increased by 45,500 from January 2015.

Over the past 12 months (December 2014 to December 2015), gains were experienced in the education and health services sector (+5,100), the leisure and hospitality sector (+4,800), the trade, transportation, and utilities sector (+4,500), and the construction sector (+4,000), among others.

“The construction sector has experienced its best year in five years,” Washington added. “Construction employment is a great indicator of economic health: construction doesn’t drive the economy, but the economy drives construction.”

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates are Shelby County at 4.0 percent, Lee County at 4.7 percent, and Elmore, Cullman, and St. Clair Counties at 4.8 percent.

The counties with the highest unemployment rate are Wilcox, Clarke (11.9 percent), Perry (10.9 percent) and Lowndes.