Report shows more in Dallas County finding work

Published 9:25 am Saturday, June 21, 2014

By Christopher Edmunds

The Selma Times-Journal


The unemployment rate for Dallas County increased in May, but more people were working, according to the latest report from the Alabama Department of Labor.

The unemployment rate for May in Dallas County was 12.1 percent, an increase from 11.7 percent in April.

Dallas County had the second-highest unemployment rate in May, behind only Wilcox County with 15.6 percent.

While the local unemployment rate increased in May, 108 more people were employed, with the total employment rising to 12,158.

Wayne Vardaman, with the Selma-Dallas County Economic Development Authority said the unemployment rate can increase even though more people are working because the size of the work force grew significantly.

“When kids graduate from high school, they join the civilian labor force,” Vardaman said. “The unemployment rate always goes up during this time of year, and it will stay up until about September or October.”

Vardaman said Dallas County residents should focus on the total number of employed people rather than the unemployment rate.

“What you have to do is look at all the numbers,” he said. “There are more people employed than last month. When the employment number starts to drop, that’s when I get worried.”

The City of Selma’s average annual unemployment rate indicates a slow but steady recovery taking place. The average annual unemployment rate has consistently decreased each year since 2009, when Selma suffered from 18.6 percent unemployment.

Vardaman said Selma’s recovery since the 2008 recession is remarkable, but not complete.

“It’s kind of stabilized lately, and our unemployment hovers around 12 percent,” he said. “Right now, we’re holding our own.”

Statewide, the unemployment rate dropped from 6.9 percent in April to 6.8 percent in May.

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates are Shelby County (4.4 percent), Lee County (4.8 percent) and Cullman and Baldwin counties at 5.1 percent.

In a news release, Gov. Robert Bentley said the state as a whole is on the right track.

“My goal is for every Alabamian who wants a job to have the opportunity to find a job, and we are heading in the right direction,” Bentley said. “While we still have a long way to go before Alabama is at full employment, we are making progress.”