Jobless rate takes a dive

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Butler County’s jobless rate dove lower in March dropping from 8.2 percent to 6.7 percent, pushing it to its lowest level almost 10 years.

Ricky McLaney, executive director of the Butler County Commission for Economic Development said the news of such a drop is wonderful.

&uot;I was looking back at the archives and the last time we were lower than this was in 1981,&uot; he said.

&uot;In April of that year, our jobless rate in Butler County was 6.6 percent. This has certainly been a long time coming and it is good to see.&uot;

He went on to say that looking at the statistics, Butler County had the second highest drop in the state, second only to Washington County.

&uot;This is a good economic indicator that we’re on the right track,&uot; he said.

McLaney said the jobless numbers do indeed affect his work with the BCCED because in a way, the county can switch gears.

&uot;I was looking a community in the Midwest with an unemployment rate of 2 percent, yet they were still touting their available work force because you always seek more,&uot; he said.

&uot;You are seeking more, but you are also seeking even better paying jobs.&uot;

He said changing directions is part of what the county does overall and also he said plans now are to help some local industries with expansion.

According to Janice Grayson, manager of the Greenville-Brewton Career Center, many components have gone into causing the drop with the top being the Tier One suppliers.

‘As we get closer to the official opening of the Hyundai plant, our local Tier One plants, HYSCO and Hwashin have put some people to work,&uot; she said.

&uot;But you have to understand that there are other jobs still available at those plants and they have a lot of openings left.&uot;

Grayson also pointed out that other companies are recruiting in the area as well and that is also helping put people to work.

&uot;We have many other jobs open as well,&uot; she said. &uot;It’s a given that if you want to work, you can find a job here.&uot;

On Tuesday, the governor’s office announced that Alabama’s unemployment rate in March dropped to 4.7 percent, its lowest level in almost four years.

Not only that, but every county saw some type of decline.

Grayson said it bodes well for Butler County and the state as a whole.

&uot;I’m so pleased that the jobless rate is coming down because it has been too high for too long,&uot; she said.

Gov. Riley echoed those sentiments.

&uot;We’re blessed to have a strong and growing economy with thousands of new jobs being created,&uot; he said.

&uot;Businesses are hiring, new companies are choosing to build here and existing industries are expanding across the state.

We’re on a roll.&uot;

Between February and March, the number of Alabamians with jobs rose by 10,800.

As a result, the unemployment rate declined from February’s 5.2 percent rate.

A year ago, in March 2004, the state’s unemployment rate was 5.7 percent.

The report shows 102,012 Alabamians were unemployed in March, 10,435 fewer than the number recorded in February and 19,229 fewer than a year ago in March 2004.

Butler County’s rate of 6.7 percent is one percent more than the national unemployment average of 5.7 percent.

The county’s surrounding neighbors also saw drops in the jobless rate.

Conecuh County dropped from 8.2 percent to 6.5 percent while Covington County had a drop from 6 percent to 4.8.

Crenshaw continues to approach the 5 percent mark dropping from7.2 percent o 5.7 percent.

Lowndes, which had the area’s high unemployment rate, dropped to 8 percent.