Lowndes County ties Clarke for second highest unemployment rate in state

Published 10:09 am Friday, October 16, 2015

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By Fred Guarino
The Lowndes Signal
While every county in Alabama experienced a decrease in its unemployment rate in September, Lowndes County tied with Clarke County for the second highest unemployment rate in the state, according to September 2015 preliminary numbers released by the Alabama Department of Labor Friday.
That was actually one place worse in the rank among county unemployment rates from the previous report. Lowndes County had the third highest unemployment rate in the state in August and July 2015, according to the preliminary numbers for those months.
According to the September 2015 preliminary numbers released Friday, Wilcox County had the highest unemployment rate at 15.1 percent, Lowndes and Clarke counties were second at 11.7 percent, Greene County was third at 10.4 percent, Dallas County was fourth at 9.9 percent and Monroe County was fifth at 9.7 percent.
It was recently announced that an $11 million cut in the new general fund appropriation to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) would force the elimination of travel to 31 part-time, non-state owned, satellite locations including those in Butler, Crenshaw and Lowndes County.
ABC Administrator Mac Gipson announced Thursday, Oct. 1 a plan to close or consolidate at least 15 state owned ABC stores, including the one in Hayneville, in three to six months.
And Fort Deposit is among 19 Alabama National Guard armories on the chopping block.
According to the Alabama National Guard, years of sustained funding shortfalls for its operations and maintenance budget have reached a critical juncture. And it reported that Fort Deposit is among 19 Alabama National Guard armories slated to close by 2017.
“It will be devastating to the town of Fort Deposit to close the armory,” Fort Deposit Mayor Fletcher Fountain said. “A lot of people here and around, they depended on the armory for subsidized income. And the town, we depended on it for those meeting days for spending that money here with us.”
According to the September 2015 preliminary numbers, Lowndes improved .8 percent from a revised August 2015 unemployment rate of 12.5 percent to 11.7 percent. That was also a .7 percent improvement in unemployment from a revised September 2014 rate of 12.4 percent.
And 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.”
Governor Robert Bentley announced Friday that Alabama’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted September unemployment rate is 6 percent, down from August’s rate of 6.2 percent, and below August 2014’s rate of 6.3 percent.
“We are extremely pleased to see a decrease in our unemployment rate this month,” Governor Bentley said. “We are seeing steady improvement, especially in our wage and salary employment. Our economy is supporting more jobs than it has all year. Just this week, we have announced 470 new future jobs for two Alabama communities. Our efforts will continue until Alabama reaches full employment.”
Alabama Department of Labor Commissioner Fitzgerald Washington said, “Every county in Alabama experienced a decrease in their unemployment rates this month. We have not seen this many jobs in September since 2008. The increase in wage and salary employment increase is proof that Governor’s Bentley’s efforts are working to get Alabama back to work.”
Counties with the lowest unemployment rates are: Shelby County at 4.1 percent, Lee County at 4.8 percent, and Elmore and Cullman counties at 5 percent.

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