Jobless numbers down again

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 19, 2010

Covington County’s unemployment rate dropped for the fifth straight month in May.

Unemployment dropped to 9.1 percent, which is down slightly from April’s 9.4 percent.

The county’s unemployment rate has dropped from 11.2 percent in January 2010.

Reports released Friday from the state department of industrial relations show 14,883 of the 16,364-person civilian workforce were employed.

Claims fell by 54 in May, with 1,481 total unemployed people in the county.

County unemployment claims are expected to continue to decline in coming months with announcements of job opportunities at SaeHaeSung, the county’s Hyundai supplier, whose expansion is expected to create 150 new jobs. Shaw Industries announced earlier in the year it was hiring and would continue to hire entry-level employees.

Covington County is 16th among a list of 24 counties with single-digit unemployment rates. Neighboring counties also experienced decreases in unemployment rates. Escambia sits at 11.3 percent; Conecuh at 17.6 percent; Butler at 13.1 percent; Crenshaw at 9 percent; Coffee at 7.6 percent; Geneva at 9.5 percent.

Statewide unemployment continues to drop, with the number of jobless claims bringing the total to 10.8 percent, which is down from April’s 11 percent.

Industrial Relations Tom Surtees said wage and salary employment increased by 13,700 over the month with the upturn resulting from gains in the government sector with temporary Census workers added; leisure and hospitality, construction, professional and business services, manufacturing, other services and natural resources and mining.

“Our unemployment rate has shown a decline and that’s obviously good news,” he said. “We continue to hope that the positive signs we are seeing in the state’s economy, such as adding to the wage and salary employment compensation beneficiaries, are indicative of a positive trend. Unfortunately, we are unsure at this time how much of an impact the Gulf Oil Spill will have on our unemployment rate.”

Surtees said that overall first payment of unemployment compensation is down significantly from 2009 levels, and is approaching 2008 levels.

Last month, the number of first time payments made to claimants was 8,584 compared to 12,915 in May 2009.