County#039;s jobless rate slowly decreasing

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 14, 2005

Unemployment numbers throughout the county continue to slowly drop, propelled by the influx of new industry into the area and an increase in the rate of hiring at plants like SMART and Dongwon.

From the 8.8 percent that was reported in December, the unemployment rate fell to 7.6 percent in January with preliminary indications for the month of February having Crenshaw County's unemployment rate at 7.2 percent.

The statistics are available monthly through the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations.

SMART went into full production in March. Hiring was done at a breakneck speed between the months of January and February to ensure staffing needs were met. Also, Dongwon and Helispec, Inc., continue to hire as each company begins to expand on current operations in Sardis and Brantley, respectively.

Unemployment claims fell to 410 countywide.

The increase in jobs and increase in industry works hand-in-hand. According to Gov. Bob Riley, 571 new projects were announced this year in the State of Alabama, creating 24, 294 new jobs.

The Washington-based Corporation for Enterprise Development ranked Alabama in the Top 10 out of all 50 states in a variety of economic indicators in 2004.

"We ranked fourth in employment growth, fourth in average annual pay growth and first in the variety of industry located in our state," said Riley.

The state's unemployment rate was 5.2 percent for February.

Coffee County's unemployment rate rose to 4.9 percent, but is still the lowest in counties surrounding Crenshaw.

Pike County had the next lowest at 5.2 percent, with Lowndes having the highest at 9.8 percent.

Neal Wade, Alabama Development Office Director, said he hopes more rural locations benefit through economic development. Wade said he wants to 'widen the playing field.' Much of the state's growth, he said, has centered around Interstate 65.