County’s jobless rate declinesPublished 10:08pm Friday, January 21, 2011
MONTGOMERY — While Alabama’s unemployment rate rose slightly in December to 9.1 percent, the percentage of those unemployed in Dallas County fell to 15.9 percent.
The county’s November 2010 figure was 16.8 percent, which had also shown a decline over the previous month.
The 15.9 percent, while high, is well below the December 2009 figure of 19.8 percent.
State Industrial Relations Director Tom Surtees said that’s up from 9.0 percent in November, but it’s lower than the 10.9 percent recorded a year ago.
Surtees said Friday the road coming out of the recession will be bumpy.
“We have to be prepared to handle the bumps as they come along,” he said.
December’s rate represents nearly 195,000 unemployed people, which is about 2,300 more than November.
But Surtees said over the past 12 months, total employment in nonagricultural area has increased by 2,600 jobs.
The counties with the lowest unemployment rates are: Shelby at 6.7 percent, Coffee at 6.9 percent and Madison at 7.0 percent. The counties with the highest rates are: Wilcox at 20.0 percent, Greene at 18.0 percent and Monroe at 16.0 percent, all rural southwest Alabama counties, where unemployment has traditionally been high.
Unemployment in mostly rural, isolated Wilcox County has been highest in the state most months in recent years, getting as high as 26 percent last year.
“Unemployment at 20 percent is unacceptable for Wilcox County,” said John Clyde Riggs, director of the Tennessee Tombigbee Regional Commission in Camden. Wilcox and Monroe are both part of the 10-county area covered by the commission.
Riggs said Wilcox has benefited some from new industries coming into surrounding areas.