With most job sectors relatively unchanged, state officials and economic experts are attributing most of the June growth in unemployment and the civilian labor force to students and teachers searching for part-time jobs as they usually do each summer.
According to the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations, the county’s unemployment rate increased to 9.2 percent in June from 7.9 percent in May. Alabama’s unemployment rate increased to 7.8 percent in June from 7.4 percent in May.
Statistics also show the county gained 488 jobs in June and the number of unemployed increased to 813 people, for a total civilian labor force increase of 1,301 individuals. Meanwhile, the total state civilian labor force increased by 36,576 people.
“Just as with last month, we are experiencing an expected, seasonal increase in the labor force,” said Tom Surtees, director of the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations in a Friday press release. “People looking for summer work as well as teachers and education employees who are not working over the summer are entering the job market. Since the unemployment rate is simply the percentage of people in the labor force who are not working, this increase will inevitably raise the unemployment rate.”
The state 7.8 percent unemployment rate was seasonally adjusted, however, meaning temporary seasonal jobs were supposedly omitted from the statistics. Not seasonally adjusted, the state’s unemployment rate was 8.9 percent in June. Individual county rates are not seasonally adjusted. Still, James Cover, professor of economics at the University of Alabama, suspects the state’s seasonally adjusted numbers contained many seasonal summer job seekers.
“It appears they are not seasonally adjusted fully,” Cover said. “The increase seems to be the pretty much normal variation between May and June.”
Another indicator that the county unemployment rate increase was due mainly to a search for seasonal summer work was that most other sectors remained the same or even gained jobs. According to statistics, manufacturing employment in the county remained steady while the leisure and hospitality sector gained approximately 100 jobs. About 100 jobs were lost in the health and educational sectors.
Keivan Deravi, economist at Auburn University Montgomery, agreed that part of the unemployment fluctuation could be attributed to people entering the work force to find summer jobs. However, Deravi added, the fluctuations are also because the economy is still weak. He said the labor market has weakened considerably since April.
The labor market was improving in the beginning of the year, which encouraged more people to again start searching for jobs, Deravi said. But then later in the year, as the market growth slowed and couldn’t accommodate the extra job searchers, the unemployment rate increased.
“Get used to seeing this seesaw effect with people entering and leaving the job market … in and out, in and out,” Deravi said. “This economy is not giving the job market a break.”
Staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star