Marengo County unemployment rate hits seven percent

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 14, 2005

What many had feared came to be a realization as the state of Alabama released their county-by-county breakdown of preliminary unemployment data for Jan. 2005. The data revealed a rise in Marengo County’s unemployment rate from 6.2 percent in December of 2004 to 7 percent in January of 2005. At the same time last year the county’s unemployment rate stood at 6.5 percent. For January, Marengo County showed a civilian work force of 8,664 with 8,056 holding jobs.

Many had feared there would be an increase as a reflection of the layoffs at Linden Lumber. Jay Shows, Executive Director of the Demopolis Area Chamber of Commerce, said this is exactly what happened.

“We knew there was going to be an increase because of the layoffs at Linden Lumber,” Shows said. “These numbers are just reflecting those individuals now.”

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Shows said though the numbers were higher there were still many counties who would love to have a 7 percent unemployment rate.

“While there was an increase that number still puts us lower than a lot of other counties,” Shows said. “There are several with higher rates than this.”

Overall, 18 counties had equal or higher rates than Marengo County.

While an increase of .08 percent may not seem like a lot in such a small work force it still hurts. Shows said though it does not affect as many people as it would in a larger city it still had a large impact.

“This would be a huge increase in a metropolitan area such as Birmingham because it would mean a lot more numbers,” Shows said. “It is still big in Marengo County because there are a limited number of people in the work force. When the civilian workforce isn’t that large to begin with and jobs are cut it always hurts.”

The remainder of the Black Belt had mixed reviews. Greene County showed an increase from 8.8 percent to 9 percent. Perry County also showed an increase from 9.9 percent to 11 percent.

Hale County was the only Black Belt County to show improvement dropping from a 7 percent unemployment rate to 6.9 percent. Sumter held steady at 8.4 percent.

County rates in Alabama ranged from 3.4 percent for Shelby County to 11.6 percent for Bullock.

The state of Alabama started 2005 with a January unemployment rate of 5.3 percent; the same figure it had in Dec. 2004 and lower than the 5.7 percent a year ago. Although the state jobless rate was unchanged, the number of unemployed persons decreased from 114,921 in Dec. to 113,779 in Jan.

“In 2004, Alabama’s average unemployment rate was 5.6 percent, with the monthly rates ranging from 5.7 percent to 5.3 percent,” Kennedy said. “The 2004 average dropped from the 2003 average of 5.8 percent and equals the rate in 2002.

The comparable national rate for Jan. is 5.2 percent, which is a decline from December’s 5.4 percent rate and also below the 5.7 percent rate in 2004.

Over the year, there was a net gain of 42,000 jobs in wage and salary employment. The majority of annual growth occurred in professional and business services (plus 13,400);, followed by trade, transportation and utilities (plus 6,100); educational and health services (plus 5,900); manufacturing (plus 5,800); construction (plus 5,100) leisure and hospitality (plus 4,700) and government (plus 2,700).

The highest losses were in other services, with 1,200 jobs lost, financial activities, with 500 lost and information with 400.