Unemployment on a slight rise in Chambers County

Published 5:38 pm Tuesday, December 4, 2018

LANETT—Unemployment rates in Chambers County are on a slight uptick, according to the most recent numbers from the Alabama Department of Labor.

The most recent numbers show Chambers County had an unemployment rate of 3.9 percent in October, which is slightly up from the previous October’s rate of 3.6 percent and also up from September at 3.8 percent.

Most recent numbers show slightly fewer than 15,000 people were working in the county, compared to a little more than 15,550 in the labor force last October. The civilian labor force comprises the total of all civilians age 16 and older classified as employed or unemployed or seeking employment, according to the Department of Labor. That leaves about 600 people unemployed in the county.

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Despite the uptick this past year, the unemployment numbers are significantly down in the county from 2016 and 2015, when the rate stood at 5.6 percent and 5.7 percent, respectively.

Chambers County Commissioner Sam Bradford said the credit goes to the Chambers County Development Authority.

“We work very closely with them to make wise use of taxpayer dollars for the equalization sales tax for economic development,” he said.

Bradford also pointed to the county’s strong relationships with the city governments of LaFayette, Valley and Lanett as reasons to why the unemployment numbers remain low.

“We just do our best to have the philosophy of doing whatever we have to do to get it done,” he said.

The Chambers County increase comes in spite of the Department of Labor saying a record number of people are working in Alabama for the sixth month in a row.

“More than 40,000 Alabamians now have jobs that didn’t last year,” Secretary of Labor Fitzgerald Washington said in a news release. “That means that they are contributing to our state’s economy and providing for their families. Our labor force continues to grow, reaching its highest level of 2018, and the vast majority of those are finding jobs, which tells us that people have confidence in our economy.”

For comparison’s sake, Chambers County is doing slightly better than surrounding counties. Randolph County, with a population of about 22,600, posted a 4 percent unemployment rate in October. Tallapoosa County, with about 40,000 people, registered an unemployment rate of approximately 4.2 percent, while Clay County, with a smaller population of about 13,000, also came in at 4 percent.

Statewide, the Department of Labor reported the state labor force increased to more than 2,212,000 people in October, representing a jump of more than 48,000 people.

“Additionally, we broke the record for the number of jobs our economy is supporting — again — beating the previous record by more than 12,000 jobs,” the Department of Labor said in a news release. “We’re beginning to see retail hiring pick up in preparation for the holidays, but over-the-year gains in high wage industries like manufacturing and construction are extremely encouraging, with yearly gains of 3.88 percent and 2.52 percent, respectively.”