Jobless rate improves

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, September 1, 2016

Pike County unemployment dropped more than 1 percent from June to July, according to data released last week by the Alabama Department of Labor.

Numbers for the month show an unemployment rate of 6.4 percent for the county, a 1.1 percent drop from June numbers. It is also a 1.1 percent decrease from July 2015. The average rate among counties for July was 6.6 percent.

Marsha Gaylard, president of the Pike County Economic Development Center, said that students looking for summer jobs skewed the June rate higher than it truly was.

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“Usually when there’s something that’s unusual like that, we call Industrial Relations to see what the cause is,” Gaylard said. “They can usually tell us what they base it on. We called in June and they confirmed that the unemployment rate went up because students had applied for summer jobs and hadn’t been hired yet.”

The state unemployment rate is seasonally adjusted for just those kinds of anomalies, Gaylard said, but the county rates are not adjusted, which leads to the discrepancy between county and state rates.

“My guess would be that students looking for jobs in June actually got jobs,” Gaylard said.

The state rate for July was 5.7 percent, the lowest it’s been since 2008 according to Gov. Robert Bentley.

“We continue to see decreases in Alabama’s unemployment rate, and increases in both of our employment measures over the year, which is a testament to the strong economic development efforts we have prioritized,” Bentley said in a statement. “We haven’t seen an unemployment rate this low in eight years. Not only did the rate decrease since last month, there are also nearly 28,000 more people working this year than there were last year.”