Unemployment rates show good signs for economy

Published 3:00 am Saturday, November 21, 2015

Drops in state and county unemployment rates signal good news for the economy, officials said Friday.

The preliminary, seasonally adjusted statewide unemployment rate for October is 5.9 percent, down from 6.0 percent in September and down 1.2 percent from October 2014.

In announcing the rate on Friday, Gov. Robert Bentley heralded the state’s growing economy.

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“More jobs are being created, Alabama’s unemployment rate continues to drop, and our economy is growing,” he said in a statement. “The wage and salary employment is at its highest level for the year. It has not been this high in almost seven years. We are one step closer to full employment.”

Wage and salary employment increased by 7,200 to 1.965 million, with gains in the government sector (plus 3,800) and business sector (plus 2,600) as well as the trade, transportation and utilities section (plus 2,200).

In Pike County, the unemployment rate dropped to 6.1 percent, from 6.4 percent in September and 6.7 percent in October 2014.

Kathleen Sauer, president of the Pike County Chamber of Commerce, said the low unemployment rates in Pike County reflect the work of government and business leaders.

“We’re fortunate to have diverse industry here,” she said. “We have an engaged government, and Marsha Gaylard (president of the Pike County Economic Development Corp.) does a great job with recruiting businesses and industries.”

In addition, Sauer said, existing businesses and industries “are working very hard to stay in business. They’re expanding, and we continue to grow.”

People, she said, “have discovered Troy and Pike County and found out what a good place it is to live and work.”

Pike County’s diverse economic base – including defense, manufacturing, agriculture, transportation, tech, and retail – is supported by multiple agencies focused on workforce training and preparedness. “You always have to be on top of it because there are ever-changing demands in the workforce,” she said. “We’re in a better situation than most people are …

“We’re always looking at optional ways to prepare and enhance workforce education, like the academies and similar programs in the schools that make us workforce ready.”

The state has surpassed 2015 growth expectations by nearly 8,000 jobs, and all 67 counties experienced decreases in unemployment rates over the month, according to the governor’s office.

Choctaw County is the only county to register an increase in the unemployment rate over the year, rising from 7.8 to 8.4 percent. Counties with the lowest unemployment rates are Shelby County at 4 percent; Lee County at 4.5 percent; and Elmore and Cullman counties at 4.8 percent.