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Jobless numbers double in year

Unemployment numbers that have more than doubled in Pike County since this time last year have taken even city officials by surprise.

“It really does not make sense to me,” said Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford.

After a jump from 6.8 percent unemployed in Pike County in January to 7.6 percent in February, Lunsford said he really couldn’t answer how those numbers ring true.

“I don’t know of any layoffs to be honest in the month of February. The layoffs we had were previous,” Lunsford said.

Brundidge Mayor Jimmy Ramage, who has watched some of the town’s local industries expand recently, was also taken aback by the jump.

“The economy is in a mess, but thanks to the industry we have, utility funds and sales tax funds have held up simply because of the number of people who come to work,” Ramage said.

But even Pike County’s number, which has more than doubled from the 3.7 percent unemployed this time last year, is still trailing behind the majority of Alabama.

With a state average of 8.4 percent without work, Pike County still remains in the top 10 of lowest unemployment rates.

In February, one of every 12 people spanning the state’s workforce were unemployed, making this the highest number Alabama has seen in 22 years. In addition, Alabama’s unemployment rate for the month exceeded even that of the national 8.1 average, reported the Associated Press.

Ramage said locally, perhaps, the housing industry, construction or trucking labor may be contributing factors.

Whatever the cause though, state officials aren’t predicting the trends in unemployment jumps will end soon.

“Our Director Tom Surtees said he expects it to get a little worse before it bottoms out in a couple months,” said Tara Hutchison, spokeswoman for the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations. “We are a worldwide economy, and the affects of the country are starting to catch up with us.”

Hutchison said those who may need help finding work can check on the state’s Web site dir.alabama.gov.