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Calhoun County jobless rate slips upward in October as state hits record low

Calhoun County’s jobless rate rose slightly in October over the previous month, while the state’s rate hit a record low.

A Friday report from the Alabama Department of Labor shows the county had a 4 percent unemployment rate in October, higher than the state’s 3.6 percent rate — an all-time record, says the department. Still, the county gained more than 500 jobs in October, keeping its unemployment rate far below the 6.9 percent rate it had in the same month last year, the report states.

Meanwhile, the city of Anniston had 218 more employed people in October than a year ago, but still had one of the top three highest unemployment rates among the state’s major cities for the month, at 4.9 percent.

Much of the county’s jobless rate increase in October was because 640 people entered the labor force to find work.

The total labor force statistics include people who are employed and those who are unemployed but actively searching for work. Unemployed people who stop searching for work aren’t counted in the labor statistics.

Ahmad Ijaz, economist for the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Alabama, said growth in the labor force is a good sign.

“When people see the economy is doing good, they’re more optimistic at finding a job,” Ijaz said.

The state’s record jobless rate comes after it tied with its previous lowest record of 3.8 percent in September.

“That’s looking very good, we had 29,000 new jobs year over year,” Ijaz said of the state jobless rate. “The economy seems to be a lot better than it’s been doing the last couple of years.”

The report also shows the state had 77,000 unemployed people in October, the fewest ever recorded.

“As we continue to see our employment rate drop, Alabama’s businesses continue to hire and support real jobs in our economy,” Fitzgerald Washington, secretary for the Alabama Department of Labor, said in the press release. “Our wage and salary employment figures are currently at the third highest level since we began keeping records.”

Ijaz said that manufacturing, particularly in the automotive industry, is driving much of the state’s economic growth.

The report shows Calhoun County has gained 200 manufacturing jobs year over year in October. The county has also gained 200 jobs in the health and hospitality sectors and 200 government jobs over the same period, the report states.

Counties with the lowest jobless rate in October were Shelby County at 2.6 percent, Marshall, Madison, Lee and Cullman counties at 3 percent and Tuscaloosa and Elmore counties at 3.1 percent.

Counties with the highest unemployment rate were Wilcox County at 8.9 percent, Clarke County at 6.6 percent and Lowndes County at 6.4 percent.

October Unemployment

Source: Alabama Department of Labor

Click here for an interactive map: https://public.tableau.com/views/October2017Unemployment/Dashboard1?:embed=y&:display_count=yes&publish=yes

Staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star.

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