Analyst prediction: Unemployment could worsen in ’14

Published 5:43 pm Friday, January 3, 2014

In a region where unemployment reports are a monthly reminder of the generational jobless problem, a prediction by an economic analyst is not the best news.

Among the predictions released in December by the University of Alabama, Culverhouse College of Commerce economic analyst Ahmad Ijaz said unemployment in Alabama will “remain relatively high in 2014,” but not for all that bad of a reason.

This marks the 33rd consecutive year Alabama has published a list of predictions from faculty experts for the coming year, covering a wide range of topics.

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According to Ijaz, despite recent gains in payrolls in recent months, the unemployment rate is expected to remain relatively high in 2014 as more workers enter the labor force with a gradually improving economy.

“Alabama’s unemployment rate is already below 7.0 percent (6.3 percent), but if the economy begins to improve significantly, the unemployment rate will go up as more and more people who have given up on looking for a job enter the labor force,” Ijaz said. “The U.S. unemployment rate, currently at 7.3 percent will remain around 7.0 percent in 2014, maybe 6.9 percent.”

While Alabama has seen the overall unemployment figure improve, the Black Belt region — primarily Dallas, Perry and Wilcox counties — has been mired in double digit unemployment, at times approaching 20 percent.

Through November, Dallas County averaged an unemployment rate of 13.7 percent in 2013. That was third highest in Alabama behind Wilcox (16.4 percent) and Lowndes (14.1 percent) counties.

Perry County, through November, averaged an unemployment rate of 12.9 percent for the year.