Area unemployment rate remains steady

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 6, 2005

The unemployment rate in Butler County held edged up slightly coming in at 8.2 percent from January’s 8 percent number, but the rate continues to decline over the same period last year.

According to numbers recently released by the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations, 30 non-agricultural jobs were added from last month’s reporting cycle and 180 jobs were added during the last 12 month period. The 8.2 percent unemployment rate ranks Butler County ninth in the state as to the highest rate of unemployment. Perry County had the state’s highest unemployment rate at 11 percent, while Shelby County had the state’s lowest unemployment rate at 3.7 percent. The unemployment rate for the state dropped slightly to 5.2 percent, just below the national average of 5.4 percent.

Neighboring counties saw their unemployment rate edge down with Crenshaw County dropping to 7.2 percent from 7.6 percent and Wilcox County posted a 10.9 percent unemployment rate, falling from January’s 11.1 percent. Lowndes County’s unemployment rate held steady at 9.7 percent, but was up from last year’s 8.8 percent in Feb.

&uot;Why it would have gone up from January to February, I don’t know,&uot; said Ricky McLaney, Executive Director for the Butler County Commission for Economic Development. &uot;I don’t know this, but it could be because of the drop off of seasonal employees after the holidays.&uot;

The local industrial base continues to grow. According to McLaney, the county’s top industrial development recruiter, Hwashin America Corporation, which supplies chassis and automobile body parts to Hyundai plans to add an additional 85 employees by the end of 2005 bringing employment to 200 with a goal of being at 315 by the end of 2006. He also said news that Hyundai had increased their annual vehicle production from 300,000 units per year at full production to 350,000 should bode well for local Hyundai suppliers.

&uot;(Hyundai) also announced their first year production will increase from 90,000 to 150,000,&uot; said McLaney, who noted that full production should occur by the end of 2007.

Another person pleased by the jobless rate’s fall is Greenville Mayor Dexter McLendon.

He said again Tuesday this is continued evidence that hard work by the city and county governments is paying off.

&uot;Hopefully, this trend will continue in the future and I believe it will,&uot; he said.

&uot;The bottom line is for the last few years, everything we have said would happen is taking place.

It makes you feel good about what is happening here in Butler County.&uot;

Mayor McLendon said this is an example of what happens when you do for yourself.

&uot;We were given an opportunity on various projects and we took advantage of it,&uot; he said.

&uot;We worked hard and tried not to sit back, thinking and waiting, someone would come to us.

We were aggressive in our pursuit and are now reaping the benefits.&uot;

Managing Editor Jay Thomas contributed to this report.