Unemployment rate rises but more people working

Published 1:49 pm Monday, March 13, 2017

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By Fred Guarino

Lowndes Signal

While Alabama and Lowndes County unemployment rates rose in January, the Alabama Department of Labor reports more Alabamians are working.

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Lowndes County’s preliminary January 2017 unemployment rate, announced Monday, March 13, is up from both December and January 2016’s revised rates and puts Lowndes at third highest in unemployment in the state.

At the same time, Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington announced that Alabama’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 6.4 percent, up from December’s revised rate of 6.3 percent and above January 2016’s rate of 6.1 percent.

But according to the Alabama Department of Labor, January’s rate represents 141,268 unemployed persons, compared to 137,875 in December and 131,483 in January 2016.

And, there were 2,054,204 people working in January, up from December’s count of 2,047,753, and significantly higher than January 2016’s count of 2,034,498.

According to numbers released  on Jan. 13, Lowndes’ preliminary January 2017 unemployment rate was 12.6 percent, up from December 2016’s revised rate of 10.4 percent and January 2016’s revised rate 11.9 percent.

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates in January were: Shelby County at 5 percent, Elmore County at 5.6 percent, and Cullman County at 5.7 percent.

Counties with the highest unemployment rates in January were: Wilcox County at 17.1 percent, Clarke County at 12.8 percent, Lowndes County third at 12.6 percent, Greene and Perry at 11.8 percent and Dallas at 10.5 percent.

“Our unemployment rate rose because nearly 10,000 more people entered the labor force last month, and about 6,500 of them found work. The others remain unemployed. When you have an increase in the labor force, and all of those people aren’t able to find work, you will see up an uptick in the rate,” said Washington.

“However, there is good news in this month’s economic report,” continued Washington. “We continue to surpass our employment numbers each month, and once again, I can say that we currently have more people working in Alabama than there have been in more than eight years. Our labor force is larger than it has been in more than five years. Average weekly earnings for our workers are up both over the month and the year. These are positive indicators for our economy.”

Major cities with the lowest unemployment rates were: Vestavia Hills at 4.2 percent, Homewood at 4.4 percent, and Hoover at 4.6 percent. Major cities with the highest unemployment rates were: Prichard at 11.9 percent, Selma at 11.5 percent, and Bessemer at 9.9 percent.