Lowndes March jobless rate climbs slightly

Published 5:21 pm Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Lowndes County’s unemployment rate climbed slightly to 10.9 percent in March, according to figures released Friday by the Alabama Department of Labor.

The unemployment rate is up from 10.3 percent in February, but still much lower than the March 2014 rate of 13.7 percent.

The county’s unemployment rate remains above the state’s average rate of 5.7 percent.

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“We continue to see decreases in Alabama’s unemployment rate, and increases in both of our employment measures, which is a testament to the strong economic development efforts we have prioritized,” Gov. Robert Bentley said. “We have gone 16 months with no increase in our unemployment rate. This steady progress is further evidence that, as far as employment indicators go, Alabama has regained its pre-recession standing. My priority as governor remains job creation, and I will continue my effort until every Alabamian who wants a job has the opportunity to have one.”

Current Population Survey (CPS), or household, employment measured 2,021,806 (seasonally adjusted). The last time CPS employment was higher was in September 2008, when CPS employment measured 2,033,383.  This also marks the fourth month in a row that CPS employment has measured over two million, which has not occurred since 2008.

Wage and salary employment, totaling 1,936,800 in March, increased by 6,300.  March’s wage and salary employment figure is at its highest point in seven years for the same time period.

Monthly gains were seen in the leisure and hospitality sector (+3,800), the trade, transportation, and utilities sector (+1,800), and the professional and business services sector (+1,100), among others.

Over the year, wage and salary employment increased by 28,600, with gains in the professional and business services sector (+8,400), the leisure and hospitality sector (+6,700), and the education and health services sector (+5,700), among others.

The neighboring Butler County’s unemployment rate fell to 7 percent in March as the county added 166 jobs.  The jobless rate is down slightly from 7.1 percent in February and 9.4 percent in March 2014.

Dallas County’s rate showed very little change from February to March, dropping from 8.7 percent to 8.6 percent.  2015 has similarly been a large improvement for Dallas, based on an 11.7 percent unemployment rate in March 2014.

“Every county in Alabama currently has a lower unemployment rate than they did a year ago,” Alabama Labor Commissioner Fitzgerald Washington said.  “Wilcox County, despite traditionally having one of the highest unemployment rates in the state, has seen a five percentage point decrease in its rate over the year. That’s great news.”

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates are Shelby County at 3.9 percent, Lee County at 4.7 percent, and Elmore, St. Clair, and Autauga Counties at 4.9 percent.

The counties with the highest unemployment rates are Wilcox, Greene County at 11.2 percent, Lowndes and Clarke County at 10.3 percent.