Jobless rate among state’s lowest

Published 6:31 pm Thursday, December 30, 2010

Pike County’s unemployment rate for the month of November was the fourth lowest in the state at 7.2 percent.

However, the good news for Pike County came as Alabama’s job recovery dipped for a second straight month. The statewide jobless rate edged up to 9 percent from 8.9 percent in October and the number of unemployed people climbed to almost 193,000.

Harry Sanders, Pike County administrator, said Pike County is blessed in many ways that help keep the economy viable and strong in hard times.

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“Pike County’s greatest asset is its people and their work ethic,” he said. “Because of that strong work ethic, industries and businesses are drawn to this area, folks like CGI. We are fortunate that our industries have continued to do well through the bad economy.”

Sanders said having a major university in the county and a main thoroughfare through the county are great assets and help keep people working.

“Troy University and U.S. Highway 231 combined with a strong industrial and retail base make Pike County a great place to live and work,” he said.

Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford also attributed the low rate of unemployment in Pike County, in part, to the county’s industrial base, which has weathered the stormy economic climate without being negatively impacted to a great extent.

“Pike County has benefited greatly from the expansion of our existing industries and the creation of new jobs,” Lunsford said. “We are very fortunate that our major employers including Troy University, Sanders Lead, Lockheed Martin, Sikorsky, the KW Companies, Wal-Mart Distribution Center and Southern Classic Foods have not been dramatically impacted by the downslide in the economy.”

Lunsford said another thing that has helped the county keep the unemployment rate low is its homegrown industries and retail businesses.

“We have a very diversified business community and haven’t had to depend on one type industry to provide employment,” he said.

“Some of our sister cities in the Southeast were dependent on the cutting and sewing industry and have been hard hit by that industry moving off shore.”

And, nobody knows that better than Brundidge Mayor Jimmy Ramage.

“At one time Brundidge had 900 textile jobs and, when you lose that many jobs, it’s tough but we’ve got more people working in Brundidge now than we’ve ever have and it’s due to the diversity of our industries,” he said. “With the Wal-Mart DC, Southern Classic Foods, Supreme Oil, Green Valley Woodchips and Brundidge Electronics, we have a very diversified economy.

“Pike County has not put all of its eggs in one basket. Pike County has got food manufacturing and distribution, military contracts, recycling, trucking, antiques, a variety of retail businesses and Troy University so we’ve been able to keep people working. We are very fortunate statewide and nationwide.”

Shelby County had the state’s lowest rate of unemployment for November at 6.7 percent.

Alabama’s jobless rate dipped below the national number in August and has stayed there.

The nationwide unemployment rate rose to 9.8 percent in November from 9.6 percent in October.

Among the states, Nevada’s 14.3 percent was the worst jobless rate, while North Dakota’s 3.8 percent was best.