Jobless rates up locally

Published 12:17 am Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Covington County’s jobless rate was 1.4 percent higher than the state average of 6.2 percent in February, according to figures released by the Alabama Department of Labor.

The county’s jobless rate of 7.6 percent was lower than January’s rate, and exactly the same as February of 2016.

Covington County Economic Development Commission executive director Rick Clifton said downsizing at Sitel ahead of their planned April closing likely has affected local jobless numbers.

“They are only operating with a skeleton crew,” Clifton said, adding the company was 329-employees strong locally when it announced in November it would close its Andalusia call center. State figures show the company added 60 jobs last year.

“We are holding our own,” Clifton said, adding that Sitel’s closing affected the whole region, as 20 percent of its local employees lived in Conecuh County.

Statewide, February’s rate represented 2,067,042 people working, up from January’s count of 2,053,837. In Covington County, 14,018 people were employed in February of 2017 – a number that is 122 higher than in January, and 51 more than the same period last year.

Data collected by the Department of Labor shows that truck drivers and registered nurses continue to be the most sought-after employees in Alabama, based on online help wanted data.