Lowndes unemployment rate down to 6.2 percent, state matches lowest rate in history

Published 11:46 am Friday, October 20, 2017

By Fred Guarino

The Lowndes Signal

Alabama’s September unemployment rate matches the state’s lowest in history at 3.8 percent. And Lowndes County’s unemployment rate is down to 6.2 percent.

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“All 67 counties experienced drops in their unemployment rates, both over the year and over the month, and for the first time in a decade, no county has a rate in the double digits,” Alabama Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington said on Friday, Oct. 20th.

Governor Kay Ivey announced that Alabama’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted September unemployment rate is 3.8 percent, down from August’s rate of 4.2 percent, and well below September 2016’s rate of 6.0 percent.  And the last time Alabama’s unemployment rate was this low was in April 2007, when it also measured 3.8 percent, the lowest rate in recorded history.

“We’ve been working extremely hard over the past six months to bring Alabama’s unemployment rate down, and today’s news shows that our efforts are paying off,” Ivey said. “This is truly an historic day, as we announce that Alabama’s unemployment rate is the lowest it has ever been. When it comes to job creation, we are doing the right thing and momentum is on our side in Alabama. But, we won’t let up and we will continue recruiting new businesses and encouraging existing firms to expand. We can’t and won’t slow down just because we’ve reached this milestone.”

According to the Alabama Department of Labor, Counties with the highest September preliminary unemployment rate are: Wilcox at 8.9 percent, Clarke at 6.7 percent, Dallas at 6.3 percent, Lowndes at 6.2 percent, and Perry and Green at 5.8 percent.

And while Lowndes’ September preliminary unemployment rate was fourth highest in the state, it improved 1.2 percent from an August revised rate of 7.4 percent and improved some 4.9 percent from a September 2016 revised rate of 11.1 percent.

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates are Shelby County at 2.4 percent, Marshall and Cullman Counties at 2.8 percent, and Madison, Lee, and Elmore counties at 2.9 percent.

Major cities with the lowest unemployment rates are: Vestavia Hills at 2.2 percent, Alabaster and Homewood at 2.3 percent, and Hoover at 2.4 percent.  Major cities with the highest unemployment rates are: Selma at 7.0 percent, Prichard at 6.4 percent, and Bessemer at 4.7 percent.

Jim Byard Jr., economic development director for the Lowndes County Economic Development Commission, attributes the improvement in Lowndes County to the overall improvement of the economy, which he said is lifting all of the counties.

He also said, “The existing industries in Lowndes County have maintained employment, meaning that they have not laid folks off.” And, “Some of our existing industries have actually increased employment, have had an expansion or increased employment or are looking to increase employment.”

Byard said while Lowndes County has not had a large announcement or large company come in, he said, “The companies that are there, the mainstay companies, have maintained their level of employment. They’ve not cut hours or cut employees.”

He pointed to the pending opening of a Love’s Travel Stop and Country Store in Lowndes County and the expansion of Koch Foods on the horizon.

According to the Alabama Department of Labor, 2,068,594 people were counted as employed in September, compared to 2,057,360 in August, and 2,045,762 in September 2016. September’s rate represents 82,678 unemployed persons, compared to 90,756 in August and 131,201 in September 2016.

“Nearly 23,000 more people are working now than last year and the number of unemployed is down by almost 50,000. Those numbers represent real workers, with real families, and indicate real progress in our economy,” said Washington. “Alabama’s employers continue to add jobs, supporting more than 2,011,000 positions this month, beating yearly job growth projections by 28,400 only nine months into the year. We remain hopeful that this wonderful progress continues throughout the rest of the year.”

Wage and salary employment increased in September by 7,100.  Monthly gains were seen in the government sector (+5,900), the trade, transportation, and utilities sector (+2,800), and the construction sector (+1,200), among others.  Over the year, wage and salary employment increased 28,400, with gains in the leisure and hospitality sector (+7,400), the professional and business services sector (+6,600), and the construction sector (+6,300), among others.