Alabama’s unemployment drops

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 1, 2004

Unemployment in Alabama dropped slightly in April to a 5.8 percent rate, compared to 5.9 percent in March. The jobless rate recorded in April 2003 was 5.9 percent.

Joining in the slight decline were the counties of Greene, Hale, Marengo, Perry and Sumter – with Hale and Sumter showing the most movement with a 0.6 percent decline.

Jay Shows, president of the Demopolis Area Chamber of Commerce, said Marengo County, which posted a 4.4 percent unemployment rate in April, compared well against the other counties in the region.

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“From our standpoint, we’d like it to be zero,” he said. “Demopolis historically has lower unemployment than the surrounding counties.”

Greene County topped the list, posting a 9.7 percent unemployment rate in April, compared to 10 percent a month ago and 11.9 percent one year ago.

Hale County’s April unemployment rate was 8.7 percent, compared to 9.3 percent last month and 12.8 percent last year.

Perry County posted a 9.1 percent unemployment rate in April, showing little movement since March’s 9.5 percent rate and April 2003’s 9.6 percent.

Sumter County’s April rate was 8.4 percent, compared to March’s 9 percent and 8.2 percent one year ago.

With those lower figures, claims for unemployment insurance, recently extended by the federal government, have also decreased statewide.

“There has been a significant decrease in the number of new applications for unemployment insurance in Alabama,” said Phyllis Kennedy, director of the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations.

Initial claims in the state have dropped from 38,127 in January, to 18,031 in April. Compared to three years ago, there were 59,476 initial claims in January 2001, and 29,382 in April 2001.

There was also a small decline in the comparable national unemployment rate, which was 5.6 percent in April, compared to 5.7 percent in March. April’s state unemployment rate represents 125,200 unemployed Alabamians, compared to 127,700 in March, and 125,300 in April 2003.

Over the past year, there was a net gain of 4,700 in wage and salary employment. The majority of the annual growth occurred in trade, transportation, and utilities (+6,300); leisure and hospitality (+2,800); professional and business services (+2,100); and educational and health services (+1,400).

The manufacturing sector lost 8,100 jobs over the year.