Etowah County’s jobless rate dropped in April to its lowest level in almost five years, according to the state Department of Industrial Relations.
Larry Foster, manager of the Gadsden Employment Security Office, said the county’s April rate of 4.1 percent was the lowest since May 2000 when the rate was 3.7 percent. Gulf States Steel closed in August 2000, idling about 1,700 workers.
The rate peaked in October 2000 at 11.4 percent.
Foster said the county’s rate was 5.1 percent in March and the drop in April was likely because of additional hiring by new firms that have recently located here, such as Decatur Plastics, Jay Mid-South and the Prince Metal Stamping.
“I think it’s finally indicated in the unemployment rate with the number of people they’ve been putting on,” he added.
“Things have just picked up, the economy’s gotten better, people have started hiring and it’s getting to the point that if people are looking there is work available for them. It might not be at the pay rate they’re expecting but there is some work available in this area now for them to find.”
Foster said he felt that would continue.
Existing firms also have been adding employees, which has helped the rate to drop, according to Foster.
The number of people unemployed here was recorded at 1,890 in April compared to 2,386 in March and 2,701 in March 2004, when the jobless rate was 5.7 percent. The work force was 46,400 in April, down slightly from March’s level of 46,513.
The state’s rate in April was 4.4 percent, down from the March rate of 5.6 percent.
By Andy Powell
Times Staff Writer