Pike Co. jobless rate up from ’98

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 25, 2000

Staff Writer

Jan. 24, 2000 10 PM

Pike County ended 1999 with a higher unemployment rate than it did the previous year.

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This past December, Pike County’s jobless rate was 6.3 percent, compared to the four percent rate it had in December 1998.

In November 1999, the unemployment rate for Pike County was 6.8 percent, said Ron Macksoud of the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations.

Pike County Commissioner Larry Meeks thinks uncertainty and the lack of desire to work are reasons for a higher unemployment rate in the county.

"There were a lot of business people who were unsure of what the year 2000 would bring," Meeks said.

The result was they chose to "downsize to get ready for the unknown," Meeks said.

He also thinks a lacking in work ethic contributed to a higher jobless rate.

"To be honest with you, there are a lot of people in the county who don’t want to work," Meeks said.

Pike County Commission Chairman Larry Penn disagrees. He believes "everybody seems to be working.

"It seems like everyone has plenty to do," Penn said. "Everyone (contractors) is wanting work done."

Many Alabama counties experienced the same unemployment rate increase.

According to figures from the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations, Alabama’s unemployment rate in December was 4.8, which was a slight increase over November’s 4.4 unemployment rate.

"While Alabama continues to enjoy a favorable economic climate, the number of unemployed persons is over 18,000 more than in December 1998," said Alice McKinney, director of the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations.

In December 1998, the jobless rate was 4 percent.

Debbie Herbert of the Department of Industrial Relations said an increase in the number of unemployment compensation claims is the basis for the percentages.

Shelby County, with 1.5 percent, had the lowest unemployment rate in Alabama for December, followed by Blount County with 2.2 percent, Tuscaloosa County with 2.3 percent, Madison County with 2.5 percent and St. Clair County with 2.7 percent.

Wilcox County had the highest unemployment rate at 12.6 percent, followed by Butler County with 12.5 percent, Lowndes County and Monroe County, both with 10.6 percent and Greene County with 10.4 percent.

It was jobs in the service-producing sector that was responsible for job gains. Trade had an increase in 7,800 jobs and services increased by 3,900.

Construction jobs increased by 1,100 during 1999, but factory jobs decreased by 9,000.

The national unemployment rate in December was 4.1 percent, which was the same the previous two months.