Jobless rate among state’s lowest

Published 6:45 pm Friday, February 4, 2011

Pike County has consistently proven to have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state of Alabama.

That’s good news according to Marsha Gaylard, president of Pike County Economic Development Corporation.

“Pike County is at a 7.2 percent unemployment level, which is a steady decrease in unemployment over the past several months,” Gaylard said. “It’s been at least a year and we still have the fourth lowest unemployment rate in the state.”

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A national report detailing the latest unemployed rate for the country showed a sharp decline in unemployment with the rate hovering around 9 percent.

For Pike County, steady declines in unemployment have become the norm and, according to Gaylard, can be attributed to the county’s broad industrial base.

“I attribute a lot of economic growth to the diversity of the industrial base here,” Gaylard said. “We have other industries that have expanded during this bad economy and we were fortunate enough to get CGI here.”

Gaylard says that CGI Group Inc., a company that provides information technology and business process services, add new jobs just about every month.

Gaylard credits the expansion of such businesses as KW Plastics, Sikorsky, Southern Classic Foods and Brundidge Electronics for being responsible for the economic growth and decline in unemployment rate. At the end of 2009, Pike County projected unemployment to be around 8.6 percent, so when unemployment continued to fall to the 7.2 percent levels they are at now, Gaylard knew that local industry was to thank.

Gaylard pointed out that the top four counties exhibiting low unemployment rates were first, Madison County; second, Jefferson County; and third, Coffee County.

In comparison, Gaylard says Pike County is doing well and expects to maintain its local economic prowess.

Nationally, the steepest two-month decline in unemployment since the Eisenhower administration is the latest sign that the economic recovery is picking up speed. The service sector and manufacturing are growing again at pre-recession rates. The Dow Jones industrial average closed above 12,000 this week for the first time since mid-2008. And retail sales have reached a five-year high.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.