Pike jobless rate among state’s lowest

Published 7:26 am Sunday, November 23, 2008

Even though state unemployment rates have risen to a 16-year high, Pike County isn’t following suit.

Though local unemployment rates have risen to 4.7 percent from last year’s 3.3 percent, they are still well under the state and national unemployment rates.

“Typically, we don’t ever follow the natural pattern when the economy is in a downturn,” said Marsha Gaylard, president of the Pike County Economic Development Corporation. “The industry people I talk to say they are having a great year.”

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According to statistics from the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations, the state’s unemployment rate rose to 5.6 percent in October, up from September’s 5.3 percent. But that still falls behind the national average of 6.5 percent.

Gaye Shipes, site manager for Alabama Career Systems in Troy, said individuals looking for employment in Pike County have probably doubled within the last few months, but that is a seasonal trend. “This is the time of year there generally are some seasonal layoffs,” Shipes said.

Employees said as many as 50 people have come into the office daily to seek employment. But, they have no way of knowing how many are unemployed and how many others are looking for a better job.

Overall, local employment rates are still within the 10 lowest in the state, Gaylard said.

And although Gaylard said she works most closely with industry, she realizes that retail employment may be affected by the economy. “When you look at the big picture, we’re still in good shape,” Gaylard said.

The diversity of local industries, U.S. 231 and Troy University contribute to the area’s economic stability, she added.