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Jobless numbers fourth lowest in state

While unemployment is wreaking havoc on homes throughout the state, Pike County is experiencing the opposite.

For the fourth straight month, unemployment rates have fallen, as October’s rate fell to 8.6 from 8.7 in September.

Pike County currently sits at fourth lowest in the state, with only Coffee County at 8.3 and the urban counties of Madison and Shelby, which set at 7.5 and 7.4 percent, respectively.

For months local officials have credited the diverse industries throughout the county for the less dramatic effects on the local job market.

With 50 counties sitting at 10 percent of higher, the diversified economy is showing its benefits.

Pike County Economic Development President Marsha Gaylard said this news is something she’s been expecting.

“This is kind of what we expected, with Tractor Supply Co. and CGI coming in and hiring people,” Gaylard said. “That’s great news.”

Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford agreed.

“It’s certainly always good when your unemployment goes down,” Lunsford said. “I hope it’s reflective in what I’m seeing in the increase in our sales tax revenue.”

Lunsford credited the expansion in local industry to the lower unemployment rate.

“Probably most of it is a result in our local existing industry,” Lunsford said. “We’ve had some growth in the community, but I think it’s certainly too early to see the impact in CGI.”

Gaylard agreed.

“I really anticipated it to continue to increase,” Gaylard said. “CGI really hasn’t hired as many as they are going to.”

The county has a civilian work force of 15,363, with 14,037 being employed and 1,326 unemployed.

Compared to the surrounding counties, Pike County has a lower unemployment than all except Coffee.

Bullock is the highest in the surrounding area at 17.6, followed by Barbour at 14.6, Crenshaw at 10.5, Montgomery at 10.2 and Dale at 9.2.

Still, while Pike County experiences an upward trend in the economy, statewide the state’s unemployment rose to 10.9 percent up from September’s rate of 10.7, according to the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations.

The state of Alabama is one of 12 states and the District of Columbia that has an unemployment rate greater than 10 percent.

The state department said there was a total of 226,790 unemployed residents, which is an increase of 3,800 from the previous month.

Sectors experiencing gains for the month were government, professional and business services, trade, transportation, utilities and educational and health services.

Still, some sectors experienced losses, including financial activities, manufacturing, other services, and natural resources and mining.

“While we did experience a slight increase in the unemployment rate, I am proud to announce that Alabama is already paying federal extension benefits to those claimants who qualify,” said Industrial Relations Director Tom Surtees. “This extension was only signed into law on Nov. 6, so that represents a less than two week turn-around time on distributing these much-needed dollars.”

According to the state department, as of Friday, approximately 12,000 Alabamians are eligible for the most recent federal extension of benefits.

This week, DIR, asked claimants whose benefits exhausted on or before Nov. 14 to begin certifying for the extended benefits.

Claimants can certify online at www.dir.alabama.gov, or by calling 1-800-752-7389.