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County’s jobless rate dips

After months of rising unemployment rates, Butler County got some good news on Friday.

The county’s jobless rate dipped, albeit slightly, in March, according to figures released by the Alabama Department of Labor. The county’s March rate was 7.6 percent, down from 7.7 percent in February.

That was a trend statewide.

Of Alabama’s 67 counties, 64 saw a drop in their unemployment rate, including Crenshaw, Lowndes and Wilcox Counties, which all neighbor Butler.

Crenshaw saw its rate fall from 6.8 percent to 6.3 percent, Lowndes’ rate fell from 11.4 percent to 11.1 percent and Wilcox went from 15.1 percent unemployment to 13.9 percent.

The other three counties — Lee, Macon and Tuscaloosa Counties — saw their rate remain the same.

Statewide, the unemployment rate held steady at 6.2 percent, according to seasonally adjusted figures.

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 unemployment rate continues to hold steady, all the while showing labor force and employment growth,” said Gov. Robert Bentley said.  “The growth is very encouraging, as we continue to see higher numbers of people working than we have in nearly eight years. Employers are hiring in Alabama, and we have a workforce ready for a job.  Our efforts will continue to put Alabamians back to work.”

The civilian labor force, which is made up of people 16 and older who are working or actively seeking work, increased to 2,176,457 in March, representing both a monthly and a yearly increase.

The number of people counted as employed in March was 2,042,177, also representing a monthly and yearly increase. The last time the number of people working was equal to or above 2,042,177 was in August 2008, when the number registered 2,042,834.

“The number of jobs our economy is currently supporting is extremely encouraging. We’re less than 8,000 jobs away from meeting economists’ predictions for job growth in 2016, and we’re only three months into the year,” said Fitzgerald Washington, Alabama Department of Labor commissioner.

From January 2016 to March 2016, Alabama’s wage and salary employment grew by 21,500.  In January, economists at the University of Alabama’s College of Business and Economic Research predicted wage and salary growth of 29,450.

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates are Shelby County at 4.6 percent, Elmore County at 5.2 percent and Cherokee County at 5.3 percent.

Wilcox has the highest unemployment rate in the state, followed by Lowndes, Clarke (10.8 percent) and Greene (10.6 percent) Counties.