State jobless rates improve

Published 10:27 pm Friday, October 17, 2014

Unemployment rates in Alabama dropped again in September, but a business advocate says small business owners aren’t resting even as economic indicators improve.

The unemployment rate has dropped from 6.9 percent in August to 6.6 percent in September. Gov. Robert Bentley said in his press release employers were reporting the highest numbers of jobs in the state since December 2008.

“That is thanks to the strong economic development efforts we have put in place to create jobs,” Bentley said.

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“Our economy is supporting more jobs today than it has in the past five years, and our efforts will continue until every Alabamian who wants a job has the opportunity to have one. September’s unemployment rate is the lowest rate we’ve seen in seven months, and we are confident that this trend will continue.”

Rosemary Elebash, the state director for NFIB, the National Federation of Independent Business, works directly with small business across the state. Elebash was in Troy in early August and said many of the business owners she spoke with had been not been taking it easy, despite the improvements in employment rates.

“Everyone that I’ve talked to they’ll tell you between taxes, rules and regulations and trying to find a trained work force, it’s a struggle every day,” Elebash said. “They’re managing that every day, and yet they want their business to thrive.”

Elebash said smaller business owners tend to feel a sense of responsibility to both their employees and their employees’ families, which may have led to an increase in the hiring of full-time employees rather than seasonal workers.

“I don’t know a single small business owner that relaxes,” Elebash said.

“They look at it as they’re responsible for the business. They feel responsibility for their employees and their families, they’ll tell you that. They think about what they do every day. They want their business to be a success, but you can’t have that without good employees.”

While the unemployment rate is the lowest that it’s been in the last seven months, Elebash said employees are still being cautious about hiring new employees.

Elebash said small business owners have worked hard to continue their businesses even though they have faced hard times in the past.

“I think the terms to use is, ‘They have weathered the storm,’ and things are still turbulent, mostly on the federal level. That’s where you hear the most about those issues, and they are weathering the storm.”