Chilton County’s unemployment rate drops slightly

Published 4:08 pm Wednesday, November 27, 2013

October’s preliminary unemployment rate for Chilton County dropped 0.1 percent from September’s rate of 5.8 percent.

The rate of 5.7 percent is 0.3 percent less than the October rate for 2012 that was 6.0 percent.

Alabama Department of Labor Commissioner Tom Surtees announced both September and October’s unemployment rates.

In September, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for Alabama was 6.4 percent that was up from the August revised rate of 6.2 percent.

This represents 136,716 unemployed people which is up from the August number of 134,287 and lower than the 157,360 in September 2012.

October’s preliminary adjusted unemployment rate is 6.5 percent, representing 138,029 unemployed people, up from 136,716 in September and lower than 152,957 reported in October 2012.

“This is a unique situation in that we have never experienced a reporting period quite like this one,” Surtees said in a release. “Obviously, the federal government shutdown impacted many jobs in Alabama. It also affected the numbers and how they were reported. Thousands of Alabamians were out of work in October due to the shutdown, and therefore affected our unemployment rate.”

Surtees said his department estimated there were 40,000 federal employees in Alabama.

“During the shutdown, nearly 2,000 filed initial unemployment compensation claims, but thousands more did not,” Surtees said in a release. “Whether they didn’t file because they knew they would be paid later or for some other reason, we can’t really know. When they file claims, they are traceable to some extent. The problem arose when the federal government conducted its monthly employment surveys and found discrepancies in the ways these federal government workers answered employment questions.”

The Census Bureau is responsible for conducting a survey to identify members of the workforce each month and to determine who is working and who is not. This is known as the Current Population Survey (CPS) or the household survey.

Another survey is conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a division of the U.S. Department of Labor, among employers to measure how many jobs are in the economy known as the establishment survey.

In the household survey, some furloughed workers answered that they were unemployed, but not looking for work, as they currently held jobs. This resulted in shrinking the labor force. At the same time, the same federal government jobs were counted as current jobs in the establishment survey.

After falling slightly in September, wage and salary employment increased in October by 8,600. One industry leading this increase is motor vehicle parts manufacturing, which has increased by nearly 17 percent since October 2012.

With the exception of three, all counties showed a decrease in their October 2013 unemployment rate from October 2012, some with drops as high as one and a half percent including Greene County (-1.6 percent), Washington County (-1.5 percent) and Chambers County (-1.5 percent).

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates in September were: Shelby County at 4.4 percent, Lee County at 5.0 percent and Cullman County at 5.4 percent. Counties with the highest unemployment rates in September were: Wilcox County at 15.6 percent, Dallas County at 13.6 percent and Bullock County at 13.0 percent.

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates in October were: Shelby County at 4.3 percent, Lee County at 5.1 percent and Cherokee County at 5.4 percent. Counties with the highest unemployment rates in October were: Wilcox County at 15.5 percent, Bullock County at 13.2 percent and Dallas County at 13.0 percent.