Alabama jobless rates fall

Published 9:49 pm Friday, June 18, 2010

Through the end of May, Alabama’s unemployment rate has continued to decline, according to the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations.

“We’ve experienced an increase of about 13,700 jobs in the month of May,” said ADIR spokesperson Tara Hutchison.

Last month alone represented a full 30 percent of the total increase in jobs since the beginning of the year, which have reached more than 44,000.

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ADIR credits the jump with the addition of temporary census workers and gains in sectors such as leisure and hospitality, construction, professional and business services, manufacturing and natural resources and mining.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Alabama fell from 11 percent in April to 10.8 percent in May.

“Our unemployment rate has shown a decline, and that’s obviously good news,” said ADIR Director Tom Surtees.

“We continue to hope that the positive signs we are seeing in the state’s economy, such as adding to the wage and salary employment numbers and the drop in first time payments to unemployment compensation beneficiaries, are indicative of a positive trend.”

But with the Alabama coastline feeling the effect of the BP oil spill, Deepwater Horizon, there might be trouble on the economic horizon.

“Unfortunately, we are unsure at this time how much of an impact the Gulf Oil Spill will have on our unemployment rate,” Surtees said.

To make matters worse, a Thursday report by the U.S. Department of Labor showed a national increase of 12,000 new claims for unemployment benefits in the second week of June.

Contributing to the rise has been a national drop in home construction with the recent expiration of federal tax credits for buyers.

Labor Department numbers are distributed weekly, as opposed to ADIR numbers, which are analyzed on a monthly basis.

Whether that nationwide data and those factors will reflect in Alabama’s unemployment figures remains to be seen.

Hutchison said it is possible that after Alabama’s June statistics are calculated, they may be consistent with the negative trends recently reported by the Department of Labor, though she could not say for sure either way.

Still, the ADIR reported the number of first payments to unemployment compensation beneficiaries to be down significantly from 2009 levels and approaching 2008 levels.

Pike County boasts the fourth lowest unemployment rate in the state at 8.1 percent, behind only Coffee, Madison and Shelby counties.

Pike County Economic Development Corporation President Marsha Gaylard said that while she is happy about the counties relative position, she is not complacent.

“Considering the high unemployment rate across the state, we’ve been extremely fortunate,” Gaylard said.

“On the other hand, I’ve got a whole list of people I’m still trying to find jobs.”

Gaylard said a new aviation-training program being coordinated with the education system and expansions of local industries such as CGI and Southern Classic Food Group, LLC, are a few ways to facilitate that.

“Until we get everybody back to work we won’t be satisfied,” she said.