Unemployment rate ties highest decline in 18 years

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 22, 2005

REGION-New figures on unemployment show Alabama’s economy is strong and growing stronger.

Governor Bob Riley on Thursday announced that Alabama’s unemployment rate for July fell to 4.0 percent. That’s down from June’s rate of 4.4 percent and a drop from the rate of 5.5 percent a year ago in July 2004.

The drop is one of the highest Alabama has seen in almost 20 years. Riley said the declining numbers were an illustration of just how strong Alabama’s economy is becoming.

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“This ties the biggest monthly drop recorded in Alabama since 1987 and is another sign that our economy is the best it has been in years,” Riley said. “Alabama has emerged as one of the strongest state economies in the nation.”

Earlier this year, Alabama recorded an equal monthly decline in its unemployment rate.

The comparable national jobless rate for July is 5.0 percent.

From June to July 2005, the number of unemployed Alabamians dropped by 9,325. Over the 12 months from July 2004 to July 2005, the number of unemployed Alabamians dropped by 33,584.

July’s 4.0 percent jobless rate represents 85,310 unemployed people in the state compared to 94,635 in June and 118,894 in July 2004.

Unemployment rates for each county will be available for release on Friday.

The July unemployment report is the latest in a string of positive news on Alabama’s economy. In May, Governor Riley announced that the Alabama Development Office was selected as the best economic development agency in the nation by Site Selection magazine. For three consecutive years, Alabama has been named “State of the Year” by Southern Business and Development magazine for its record of industry expansion and job creation among 17 Southern states. In 2004, a nonprofit organization found that Alabama ranks in the Top 10 of all states in a variety of areas used to measure the health of the economy. The Corporation for Enterprise Development ranked Alabama fourth among the states in employment growth and fourth in average annual pay growth.

For the most part, the Black Belt reflected the drop in unemployment rates. Each County in the region saw a drop in unemployment except for Greene.

Greene County saw its unemployment rate climb from 5.8 percent in June of 2005 to 6.7 percent in July. The numbers were an improvement from July of 2004 when the unemployment rate was at 9.6 percent.

Sumter saw the most significant decrease as their unemployment rate dropped to 7.7 percent from June’s 8.6 percent. Sumter’s totals for July of 2004 were at 10.6 percent.

Marengo County saw the next largest decrease as their totals were down to 5.5 percent from June’s 6.3 percent. Marengo’s numbers for July of 2004 were 6.4 percent.

Perry County was able to drop their unemployment numbers down from double digits to 9.5 percent. Perry’s numbers for June of 2005 added up to 10.1 percent. This was down from 10.5 percent in July of 2004.

Hale also saw a slight decrease in unemployment. Hale’s numbers were lowered to 5.2 percent from 5.5 percent in June of 2005. Hale’s numbers for July of 2004 were 7.7 percent.