Jobless rate rises slightly in county

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 21, 2006

The Alabama Department of Industrial Relations released the state unemployment rates this week for the month of July and Butler County's rate fell to 5.9 percent from 6.1 percent in July 2005.

Butler County's unemployment rate was, however, up 0.1 percent from the month of June.

Ricky McLaney, Executive Director for the Butler County Commission for Economic Development, said the rate usually goes up this time of year, due to students going back to school and seasonal changes in jobs, but the percent margin is almost so small that it is insignificant.

&#8220From June to July, seven out of the last 10 years, (the Butler County unemployment rate) went up,” Ricky McLaney said. &#8220The percent change is so small that it tells me that it is very insignificant and virtually unchanged.”

The state unemployment rate rose from 3.6 percent in April, May and June to 3.9 percent in July. The latest figure equals the same figure posted in July 2005.

&#8220The majority of a decline in wage and salary employment between June and July is the result of seasonal losses in education, as well as reductions in manufacturing,” Alabama Department of Industrial Relations Director Phyllis Kennedy said.

Although Kennedy attributes the increase of the state unemployment rate to reductions in manufacturing, among other things, in Butler County, manufacturing does not seem to be a problem.

McLaney said companies like Hwashin and Shoreline Trucking, which had virtually no employees this time last year and now has nearly 100, has continued to boost Butler County's employment rate.

Butler County fared well in relation to the surrounding counties in the latest unemployment figures, with Lowndes County posting an 8.7 percent rate, up 1.4 percent from June, Crenshaw County posting a 4.0 percent rate, up 0.2 percent from June, Conecuh County posting a 5.9 percent rate, up 0.3 percent from June, Covington County posting a 4.0 percent rate, up 0.2 from June and Wilcox County posting a 9.7 percent rate, up 1.2 from June.

Statewide, Shelby County had the lowest unemployment rate at 2.7 percent, followed by Baldwin at 2.9 percent and Blount, Lee and Madison at 3.3 percent.

Butler County had the 17th highest unemployment rate, down eight spots from ninth in 2005.

Perry County had the highest unemployment rate at 10.7 percent, followed by Bullock at 10.4 percent, Dallas at 9.8 percent, Wilcox at 9.7 percent and Lowndes at 8.7 percent.

Over the entire year, the state gained 32,500 jobs, including 8,400 professional and business services jobs, 6,000 leisure and hospitality jobs, 5,600 educational and health services jobs, 4,300 construction jobs and 3,000 manufacturing jobs.

On the national level, the unemployment rate for July was 4.8 percent, down 0.2 percent from July 2005.

On the local level, McLaney said numbers should also start falling as more business continue to move into the city.

&#8220As retail goes up, the numbers will come down,” McLaney said.