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County’s jobless rate ticks up slightly

Butler County’s jobless rate ticked up slightly during the first month of the New Year, according to figures released Monday by the Alabama Department of Labor.

The county’s unemployment rate for January was 7.6 percent, which was up from 7.4 percent in December.

The slight increase reflected a trend among neighboring counties.

Crenshaw County saw its rate jump from 5.9 percent to 6.5 percent, while Lowndes County’s rate increased to 12 percent from 10.7 percent and Wilcox County saw its rate go to a state-high 16 percent from 15.1 percent.

The state as a whole saw its unemployment rate dip slightly.

Alabama’s seasonally adjusted rate for January is 6.2 percent. It was 6.3 percent in December.

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.

“January’s rate contains some interesting and positive data,” Alabama Department of Labor Commissioner Fitzgerald Washington said. “There is almost no change in the rate, mainly due to the fact that there were more people in the labor force and more people were employed. These are both good signs because it means that people are continuing to display confidence in the economy and that they are able to find work. In fact, the number of people counted as employed in January is higher than it has been since October 2008.”

The Civilian Labor Force increased in January by 8,183 to 2,154,061. The number of people employed increased in January by 8,178 to 2,019,653. The last time this number was at or above this number was in October 2008, when it was 2,021,511, according to the Alabama Department of Labor.

“We remain committed to lowering Alabama’s unemployment rate, but we are even more committed to making sure that every Alabamian who wants a job has the opportunity to have one,” said Gov. Robert Bentley. “We are making significant progress towards that goal. This month’s jobs numbers are showing some of the best growth we have seen in years, and we are encouraged by the momentum. We will not stop in our mission to bring quality jobs to Alabama, and help our existing businesses become even more successful.”

The counties with lowest unemployment rates are Shelby County at 4.5 percent, Elmore County and Lee County at 5.3 percent, and Autauga County and St. Clair County at 5.4 percent.

Wilcox County has the state’s highest unemployment rate, followed by Clarke County (12.4 percent), Lowndes County, Greene County (10.8 percent) and Monroe County (10.3 percent).