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Labor force, Job numbers increase in Chambers

CHAMBERS — For the past two months the unemployment rate in Chambers County has risen, from 3.5 percent in April to 3.8 percent in May. The June numbers recently released by the state Department of Labor show that June saw another increase to 4.9 percent. However, this is nearly all due to a rise in the labor force.

The report states that Chambers County had 752 people listed as unemployed in June, compared to 584 in May. This is higher than they were a year ago, when 4.4 percent of the workforce was unemployed.

The civilian labor force concurrently rose to 15,493 people from 15,344 in May, while the number of people employed in Chambers County dropped from 14,760 to 14,741 in June, a difference of only 19 people.

Charlie Williams, Chambers County Commissioner for District 1 and Commission Chairman, said he wasn’t surprised that the jobs numbers went up.

“Naturally if there are more people in the market, the numbers will go up,” he said. “It’s great to have people here.”

Williams added that he was also glad the numbers are not where they were 10 years ago when the final shutdown of WestPoint Home took place and unemployment was over 20 percent.

Seventeen other counties had unemployment rates lower than Chambers, including nearby Lee County at 4.7 percent. Six counties tied with Chambers County with a 4.9 percent unemployment rate as well, including Tuscaloosa, Montgomery, Lamar, Cherokee, Bullock and Bibb County.

Nearby counties also saw an increase in unemployment: Lee County went from 3.4 percent in May to 4.7 percent in June, Randolph rose from 3.8 percent to 5 percent and Tallapoosa went from 4 percent to 5.1 percent.

Counties with the lowest unemployment rate include Shelby County at 3.7 percent, Elmore, Cullman and Baldwin counties at 4.2 percent and Marshall County at 4.3 percent.

Counties with the highest unemployment rate include Wilcox County at 11.4 percent, Clarke County at 9.3 percent and Perry County at 9.2 percent.

Statewide, Alabama’s unemployment rate, seasonally adjusted, rose only slightly from 3.9 percent in May to 4.1 percent in June, or 85,589 people in May to 89,352 people in June, a difference of 3,764 people.

In June, 2,098,377 people, seasonally adjusted, were counted as employed, up from May’s 2,091,505.

“More Alabamians are employed than we have ever seen,” said Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington.  “More people are entering the workforce, optimistic that they will find work, and they are finding it. Employers are telling us that they are supporting more positions than ever before.  Jobs are available in Alabama, and even more are being announced every day. Alabama is working!”

“As we are experiencing job growth, we’re also seeing our wages increase,” continued Washington.  “Workers are earning on average more than $30 per week more now than they were last year, and we’ve also seen wages increase in the construction, manufacturing, and professional and business services industries.”