Unemployment rate on the rise for state

Published 3:00 am Saturday, June 20, 2015

Alabama’s unemployment rate might have increased between May and April, but the economy boasts more new jobs than predicted.

A study released by some of the University of Alabama’s leading economists estimated that the state’s wage and salary employment would grow by 33,800 by the end of the year. However, the state has been able to surpass that estimate by more than by 1,000 jobs in the first five months of the year.

And in commenting on the job growth and unemployment rate statistics, Gov. Robert Bentley on Friday reiterated in a statement that the state’s efforts to create jobs are still strong and would continue until every Alabamian has the opportunity to find a job.

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May’s statewide unemployment rate rang in at 6.1 percent, down from the May 2014 rate of 6.9 percent but up from 5.8 percent in April. In Pike County, the May rate was 6.5 percent, lower than May 2014’s unemployment rate of 6.8 percent, but a whole percentage point more than April 2015’s rate of 5.5 percent.

Rep. Alan Boothe, R-Troy, said the uptick in the unemployment rate didn’t frighten him much, especially as he considers new corporations expressing their intentions of settling in Alabama.

“We’re adding new jobs all the time in the state of Alabama,” Boothe said. “On a national average, there are fewer people looking for jobs, which causes fluctuation. In Alabama, we’ve had commitments from anywhere from two to five corporations that intend to locate in Alabama, and I feel like the outlook is great in Alabama – especially in the southeast region of Alabama with Airbus locating in the Mobile area and Lockheed Martin looking at an expansion there. I think it’s just a matter of time before we see our unemployment rates change for the better.”

Alabama Labor Commissioner Fitzgerald Washington said in a released statement that while the state’s unemployment rate had increased, the news was not entirely bad.

“Both employment measures registered gains, which is clear evidence that Alabamians are going back to work,” Washington said. “We haven’t seen wage and salary employment this high in May since 2008. Additionally, household employment also increased by more than 47,000 since last year.”

May’s total number of wage and salary employees came in at 1,958,100, the highest it has been since May 2008 when it was 2,012,500.

Gains were seen in the professional and business service sector, the leisure and hospitality sector and utilities sectors among many other departments.

And the total wage and salary employment numbers increased in May by 9,400 edging the number closer and closer to the 2 million mark.

Washington said the increase in an employment rate could easily be attributed to the number of people entering into the workforce.

“It is not surprising to see an increase in the unemployment rate in the summer months due to more people entering the workforce,” Washington said. “Students and recent graduates tend to enter the job market during these times and begin their job searches.”

Pike County reported a civilian labor force of 14,898 for May. Of those 14,898 people, 13,934 were employed and only 964 people reported unemployment.

Lee, Shelby and Elmore counties are boasting the lowest unemployment rates. Shelby County garnered the lowest of the state with an unemployment rate at 4.2 percent.