State and Lowndes unemployment rate falls, but Lowndes still third highest

Published 10:45 am Friday, June 16, 2017

By Fred Guarino

The Lowndes Signal

While Alabama’s preliminary May unemployment rate of 4.9 percent is the lowest it’s been since 2008, and Lowndes County’s preliminary May unemployment rate of 7.4 percent is a whopping 5.2 percent better than it was in January of this year, the county still ranks third highest in the state.

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According to numbers released Friday, June 16 by the Alabama Department of Labor, counties with the highest unemployment rate in the state are Wilcox, highest at 10.9 percent, the only county with double digit unemployment; Clarke, second highest at 8 percent; Lowndes, third highest at 7.4 percent; Perry and Greene, fourth highest at 7.3 percent; and Washington County, fifth highest at 6.6 percent.

The current Lowndes County preliminary rate of 7.4 percent is down from January’s revised rate of 12.6 percent. It is .7 percent lower than April’s revised rate of 8.1 percent and 2.6 percent better than May revised 2016 rate.

Toward helping to further reduce Lowndes County’s unemployment, Gary Faulkner of The Faulkner Group, currently heading up economic development efforts for the Lowndes County Economic Development Commission, said Thursday that Lowndes County currently has six participants in an ongoing Ready to Work program for 18 to 30-year-olds in Hayneville.

He said the program providing free job skills and pre-employment training. was taken out of the community college in Selma and brought to the Rural Institute for Technology Education (RITE) Center next to Head Start Headquarters.

He said that has not been done in the state before.

The program is a six-week course with classes held Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. until 12 noon with free round-trip transportation and a $35 per week lunch allowance.

It is offered through Wallace Community College Selma and is funded by South Central Alabama Development Commission (SCADC) with assistance from the Lowndes County Commission.

 

Governor Kay Ivey, along with Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington, announced Friday that Alabama’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted May unemployment rate is 4.9 percent, down from April’s rate of 5.4 percent, and significantly lower than May 2016’s rate of 5.8 percent.

“Over the past three months, our unemployment rate has fallen by an impressive 1.3 percentage points.  May’s figures represent the lowest unemployment rate in more than nine years and more people working now than in the last ten years,” Ivey said. “It is a team effort, and I sure am proud this rate decrease occurred during my first full month in office. We will continue to exhaust every effort and explore every opportunity until every Alabamian who wants a job, has a job.”

The last time Alabama’s unemployment rate was at or below 4.9 percent was March 2008 when it measured 4.8 percent. The last time Current Population Survey (CPS) employment measured at or above 2,089,217 was March 2007, when it was 2,090,126.

“Fifty thousand more people have jobs now than they did last year,” Secretary Washington said.  “Increased confidence in our economy is evidenced by not only that fact, but also that our employers are reporting the highest wage and salary employment numbers in almost a decade.  In fact, this is the fourth highest wage and salary employment count since we started keeping records in 1939.”

All metropolitan areas had rate decreases both over-the-month and over-the-year.  Only one county (Sumter) experienced a rate increase over-the-month, and all counties saw their rates drop over-the-year, according to the Alabama Department of Labor.

“Several years ago, in the heart of the recession, it wasn’t uncommon to see more than half of our counties with double digit unemployment rates, particularly in the rural counties.  Today, only one county has double digit unemployment, and its rate has dropped by two full percentage points over the year,” Washington added.

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates are: Shelby County at 3.1 percent, Elmore County at 3.4 percent, and Cullman County at 3.5 percent.

Major cities with the lowest unemployment rates are: Vestavia Hills at 2.7 percent, Homewood at 2.8 percent, and Hoover at 3 percent.  Major cities with the highest unemployment rates are: Prichard at 7.4 percent, Selma at 7.3 percent, and Anniston at 5.6 percent.