County, state unemployment numbers remain a steady 5.3 percent

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 9, 2007

&#8220Steady” is the word to describe both Butler County and Alabama's unemployment rates.

Governor Riley announced last Friday the state's unemployment rate remained a low 3.3 percent in February, unchanged from January.

According to Ricky McLaney of the Butler County Commission for Economic Development, Butler County's unemployment rate also remained unchanged.

&#8220We were at 5.4 percent in February, and we were at 5.4 percent in January,” McLaney said.

At the same time one year ago, the unemployment rate was slightly lower at 5.3 percent in the county.

&#8220However, in 2006, our overall annual average for unemployment was 5.1 percent. I did some checking, and that is the lowest annual average in Butler County since 1973, when it was 4.8 percent,” McLaney said.

According to the BCCED director, there are currently 509 Butler County residents registered with the state employment office.

&#8220There are certainly still people looking for work or looking for a better job here in Butler County,” McLaney said.

&#8220We are always actively looking for job opportunities to bring to the county, especially better paying jobs that will be an incentive for people to stay here.”

While he is glad the unemployment numbers are running lower than they did for many years, Greenville Mayor Dexter McLendon would like to see the unemployment rate drop even further.

&#8220There are still companies in the area looking for employees. We need to build our workforce. I want to see us draw new workers to our county, whether in a commercial or industrial capacity,” McLendon said.

In neighboring Crenshaw County, where a number of new industries have been brought, the unemployment rate for February was 4.1 percent. Lowndes County was at 6.4 percent, Conecuh, 5.5 percent and Monroe, 5.8 percent.

Wilcox County still leads the pack in the region with 8.1 percent unemployment.

Montgomery County's rate is just 3.7 percent, &#8220but you have to take into consideration that number amounts to 4,100 people unemployed,” McLaney said.

The BCCED director said Butler County's new industries and businesses definitely signal a move forward for the area.

&#8220You know, it is hard for us to sometimes take it all in and see how much things have improved here over the last few years,” McLaney.

&#8220We just had a visitor here who had last been to Greenville probably six or seven years ago. He couldn't believe how many things had been added since his last visit – the new high school in Greenville, the Tier One suppliers for Hyundia, CorStone, the Wal-Mart Super Center, the 5,500-foot addition to the airport runway. It was great to see his positive reaction to all this.”

Alabama's state unemployment rate remained below the national unemployment rate of 4.5 percent in February.

Statewide, employment increased by 35,800 in the last 12 months.