Unemployment rates show little change

Published 5:26pm Friday, January 24, 2014

While Alabama’s latest unemployment figures showed a slight decrease from 6.2 percent in November to 6.1 percent in December, Elmore County’s jobless number rose from 5.2 to 5.4 percent during the same period.

December’s preliminary rate was announced Friday by Alabama Department of Labor Commissioner Tom Surtees. The state’s December 2013 rate was down from 6.8 percent in December 2012. Elmore County showed a decline in unemployment from 6.2 percent in December 2012.

“While we are certainly pleased to announced that our unemployment rate is at a 5-year low, we know we are not in a perfect situation, employment-wise,” said Surtees. “There are still more than 120,000 Alabamians who want a job and we must focus our efforts on helping those people find work.”

Gov. Robert Bentley said the continued overall decline in unemployment is good news, but he wants to see the job market make further improvements.

“This marks a 5-year low with 59,400 more jobs today in Alabama than there were in January of 2011, with the greatest job growth coming from the manufacturing sector,” said Bentley. “There are over 40,000 new, future jobs coming to Alabama. We’re announcing new, well-paying jobs in six locations across the state this month alone.

“The University of Alabama’s Center for Business and Economic Research just last week released its economic forecast which predicts greater growth and an estimated 25,000 jobs to be added in 2014. This is all great news for Alabamians who need a well-paying job, but I won’t be satisfied until every person who wants a job can get a job in this state.”

December’s rate represents 129,743 unemployed persons, compared to 132,301 in November and 145,613 in December 2012.

Elmore County ranked as 15th lowest in Alabama at 5.4 percent. December rates for counties adjacent to Elmore were Autauga at 5.0 percent, Chilton at 5.1 percent, Montgomery at 6.2 percent, Tallapoosa at 7.2 percent, Coosa at 7.6 percent and Macon at 7.9 percent.

The last time the state’s unemployment rate was at or below 6.1 percent was in October 2008, when the rate was 5.9 percent.

“Although we saw a slight decrease in the number of jobs in the economy in December, over the year, we saw a gain of more than 10,000 jobs,” said Surtees. “Our manufacturing industry continues to grow at one of the best rates in the country, adding nearly 6,000 jobs to Alabama’s economy in 2013.”

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates were Shelby at 3.8 percent, Lee at 4.7 percent and St. Clair and Cullman, both at 4.8 percent. Counties with the highest unemployment rates were Wilcox at 14.2 percent, Bullock at 11.6 percent and Perry 11.4 percent.

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