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Marengo County unemployment rate declines

Alabama’s unemployment numbers are on the rise in some cases and falling in others according to preliminary data released by the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations. The December statistics released by the state showed the unemployment rate at 5.4 percent, which was a decrease from last years 5.8 percent at the same time. The figures released were not completely good news. The December figures showed an increase from Novembers 5.2 percent with 5,800 more unemployed Alabama workers.

Phyllis Kennedy, Director of the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations, said the situation is looking up and they will have a better idea of where they stand in the spring.

“Although December’s rate is slightly higher, the rate had declined for the previous three months and it appears that 2004 will show improvements overall from 2003,” Kennedy said. “The official average unemployment rate for 2004 is expected to be published in early March after benchmarking of statistical data is complete.”

A statement released by the State of Alabama showed a civilian labor force of 2,165,000 for the state in December of 2004. Of that number 117,800 were unemployed.

Shelby County had the states lowest unemployment rate at 2 percent while Wilcox had the highest number with 15.2 percent.

The numbers were usually higher than the states figures in the Black Belt with the exception of Marengo County.

Marengo County showed an available work force of 11,430 with 560 out of work for an unemployment rate of 4.9 percent. However, these figures were put together before the massive layoffs at Linden Lumber.

Douglass Dyer, Director of Labor Market Statistics for the Department of Industrial Relations said it would be difficult to gauge just how much these numbers will impact Marengo County.

“We can’t really speculate just how much the layoffs will impact the numbers,” Dyer said. “On one hand you look at the labor force and look at place of work. On the other you look at place of residence. Since many of the workers were not from Marengo County it will impact more than just Marengo County so it is hard to estimate how the numbers will change.”

Kelly Lee, E.S. manager with the Demopolis office of Alabama Department of Industrial Relations also said it will be tough to gauge the exact impact of the lost jobs.

“We can’t really tell how far it will go up yet,” Lee said. “Obviously, it will go up though.”

Greene County was stricken with the Black Belts highest unemployment rate and the fifth highest in the state. Greene showed an available work force of 3,310 with 380 out of work for an unemployment rate of 11.4 percent.

Perry was the next highest with 10.5 percent followed by Sumter at 9.2 percent and Hale at 8.9 percent.