Etowah County’s unemployment rate dropped significantly in November to a five-year low of 5.5 percent, according to Alabama Department of Labor statistics.
The state’s unemployment rate dropped to 6.2 percent from the October rate of 6.4 percent. This is the third time this year Alabama’s rate has been at that level, which also is a five-year low.
Etowah County’s unemployment rate in October was 6.2 percent, down slightly from the preliminary rate of 6.3 percent reported last month.
The county’s unemployment rate in November 2012 was 6.4 percent.
Other counties in Northeast Alabama also saw similar drops in their unemployment rates in November. Calhoun County had the biggest drop, to 6.1 percent from 7.3 percent in October.
In Etowah County, the number of unemployed people dropped from 2,811 in October to 2,505 in November, while the number of employed people increased to 43,121 in November from October’s 42,280.
The county’s civilian workforce in November was 45,630, up from the October level of 45,091.
This was the third straight month the county’s unemployment rate has dropped. The yearly average is 6.6 percent.
The county’s highest unemployment rate this year was 7.9 percent in both January and February.
November’s 5.5 percent is the county’s lowest unemployment rate since June 2008, when it also was at 5.5 percent according to Department of Labor statistics.
Statewide, the November unemployment rate represents 132,381 unemployed people, compared to 137,160 in October and 148,956 in November 2012.
“The long-term trend in Alabama’s unemployment rate is encouraging news for Alabamians who want a job,” Gov. Robert Bentley said. “Every Alabama county has a decrease in their unemployment rate for November, and that is a sign that Alabamians are getting back to work in both rural and urban areas of Alabama. There is still much work left to be done, however, until Alabama reaches full employment, and our efforts to recruit more jobs will continue.”
Alabama Labor Commissioner Tom Surtees said it appears seasonal hiring, especially in retail establishments, helped to lower the unemployment rate.
Alabama also registered preliminary unemployment rates of 6.2 percent in July and August. The last time its unemployment rate was at or below 6.2 percent was in October 2008, when it was 5.9 percent.
“The decline in the county unemployment rates, which range from at least a half a percentage point to nearly two, may present a clearer picture of what is actually going on throughout Alabama as the county data are not seasonally adjusted,” said Surtees.
“Seasonal adjustment” refers to the Bureau of Labor Statistics practice of anticipating certain trends in the labor force, such as hiring during the holidays or the surge in the labor force when students graduate in the spring, and predicting their effects of the unemployment rate.
Non-seasonally adjusted data show the number of people working in a county, with no seasonal factors imposed.
Counties with the lowest unemployment rates were Shelby at 3.6 percent, Lee at 4.5 percent and Cullman, St. Clair, and Cherokee at 4.7 percent. Counties with the highest rates were Wilcox at 13.9 percent, Bullock at 11.9 percent and Perry and Dallas at 11.1 percent.
By Andy Powell
Times Staff Writer