Preliminary August Lowndes unemployment rate third highest in state

Published 11:11 am Friday, September 18, 2015

By Fred Guarino
The Lowndes Signal
While Lowndes County officials look forward to improved unemployment numbers with potential industrial development opportunities, such as the soon to open Chowel plant in Fort Deposit, preliminary August 2015 Alabama Department of Labor numbers, released today (Friday) show Lowndes County remains third highest in unemployment in the state.
The county was also third highest in the state when July preliminary numbers were released last month.
While Lowndes County was among the 64 of 67 counties that saw their rate either drop or remain constant in August, according to Alabama Department of Labor Commissioner Fitzgerald Washington, the numbers released Friday show Lowndes County was third highest at 12.5 percent behind Wilcox County at 16 percent and Clarke County at 12.9 percent.
Greene County had 11.2 percent; Dallas County had 10.8 percent and both Perry and Monroe Counties had 10.7 percent.
However, Lowndes County unemployment improved .7 percent in preliminary August numbers, down from 13.2 to 12.5 percent from July revised numbers. And the county improved .8 percent in the August preliminary numbers from the revised August 2014 rate of 13.3 percent.
Washington said, “Only one Alabama county experienced an increase in its unemployment rate over the year (Choctaw), which is telling us that all across the state, things are improving.”
Lowndes County Commission Chairman Robert Harris, who serves as vice chairman of the Lowndes County Economic Development Commission, said recently that the 200 jobs to be located at the Chowel plant in Fort Deposit should cause unemployment numbers in the county to “drop greatly once those people start working.”
In addition, Harris said, the Lowndes County Board of Education is teaching soft skills to residents, as well as to high school students so that they can be job ready.
Also when recently asked, Thomas Ellis, chairman of the LCEDC said, “The Chowel operation will have a significant impact on our unemployment rate here in Fort Deposit and Lowndes County.”
Ellis said, “The expected employment level is 200 people working within two years. The first hiring phase should be 100 jobs with the other to follow.”
Counties with the lowest August preliminary unemployment rates are: Shelby County at 4.7 percent, Lee, Elmore, and St. Clair Counties at 5.5 percent, and Cullman and Baldwin Counties at 5.6 percent.

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