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Jobless numbers increase for county

Crenshaw County unemployment rates for the month of December show a jump of almost two full percentage points from what was reported in November.

The statistics, compiled monthly by the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations, show an increase from 6.9 percent in November to 8.8 percent for the final month of 2004.

Doni Ingram, executive director of the Crenshaw County Economic and Industrial Development Authority, said historically the county hovers 'between seven and eight percent' for unemployment.

"Even when we had five or six sewing plant closures we still stayed within that margin," she said. "Our people are usually able to find work."

She also notes that the most recent data is also old data and is anxious to see the new numbers from January.

"I know that between January and February of this year both the SMART Plant and Helispec have hired a combined 266 people," she said. "By November of this year, Smart will employ around 700 people while the Dongwon facility will employ almost 190."

The December statistics are also preliminary data and could be revised by the ADIR next month. Current data shows that in Crenshaw County 430 people filed for unemployment in December, an increase of 90 claims from the previous month.

"The number goes up because there are unemployed people going in to apply for these jobs and they're also being counted in the workforce for our county," said Ingram. "With our workforce being small as it is, 430 claims is going to be a big percentage."

Ingram expects a rise in the rate of unemployment as the county's total workforce of 4,890 increases.

"Our civilian labor force will go up as people move into this area for jobs in-county," she said. "But in the long run - with the added impact of these new industries - our unemployment rate should drop significantly."

In the surrounding counties, Coffee has the lowest unemployment with 3.7 percent. Lowndes has the highest at 11.7 percent.

Alabama's unemployment rate for 2004 was 5.7 percent.