County’s jobless rate jumps by 2 percent

Published 8:32 pm Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Chilton County posted an 8.1-percent unemployment rate in January, up from 6.1 percent in December.

The January figure is more than double the 3.8-percent unemployment rate recorded in January 2008 and represents about 1,577 jobless persons in the county.

On average last year, just 11 counties had better rates than Chilton. In January 2009 there were 23 counties with more favorable rates.

“The important thing to realize right now is that the recession has hit the entire country hard,” Department of Industrial Relations Director Tom Surtees said.

Surtees announced yesterday that Alabama’s unemployment rate rose to 7.8 percent in January. This is up from December’s revised rate of 6.5 percent. The rate represents 167,774 unemployed Alabamians.

“Alabama is fortunate in that our rate is still a good bit lower than the rates of our neighboring states. Thanks to the increase in economic development over the past six years, Alabama has so far been able to weather the recession a little better than others.”

Although January’s rate shows an increase in the number of people unemployed in Alabama, the rate remains well below those of neighboring states. Mississippi reported a rate of 8.7 percent, while Georgia, Florida and Tennessee reported rates of 8.6 percent.

Employment declined by 40,700 over the month of January, with most of the job losses occurring in the trade, transportation and utilities sector and the professional and business services sector.

The counties with the lowest unemployment rates are Shelby, at 5.5 percent; Madison, at 5.7 percent; and Coffee, at 6.2 percent. The counties with the highest rates are Wilcox, at 19.5 percent; Chambers, at 17.9 percent; and Dallas, at 17.3 percent.

For 2008, Alabama’s average unemployment rate was 5 percent, below the national yearly average of 5.8 percent.