Low jobless rate not a problem

Published 3:46 pm Monday, April 3, 2006

By By MARY-ALLISON LANCASTER – Managing editor
Recent statistics show the unemployment rate in Alabama has dropped considerably, which could make it harder for industries to recruit to counties within the state.
However, area recruiters say the decrease doesn't appear to affect the promotion of industries in the area.
Wiley Blankenship, president of the Coastal Gateway Economic Development Authority, said the low unemployment rate is definitely challenging when he goes out to recruit certain industries, but it's not a stopping point.
Statistics prepared by the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations, based on a 2005 benchmark, show the state's unemployment rate from February 2005 to February 2006 has dropped from 4.3 percent to 3.6 percent. In Escambia County, the unemployment rate has dropped from 6.1 percent to 5 percent.
Blankenship said he's not so concerned about the 3.6 percent state unemployment rate.
What Blankenship said industries would be more concerne about are the states with a much higher unemployment rate.
He said the main focus for CGEDA is helping communities better themselves.
Statistics show there are 26,750 underemployed workers in Escambia, Monroe, Conecuh, Clarke, Washington and Baldwin counties. Throughout the state, there are 495,700 underemployed workers.
In other words, Rogers said, underemployed people are those who are not getting paid of their capabilities.
Rogers said the statistics just show the people who are unemployed. However, it doesn't show the full range of people unemployed.
In fact, several industries have already pinpointed Escambia County as the place they want to make home.
Recently, McArdle Enterprises was granted a tax abatement from the Brewton City Council. The business is a manufacturer of heart pine flooring, pine beams and skirting. The company plans to hire an initial seven employees and add 10 workers over the next year.
In Atmore, Alto Products, the oldest and largest independently owned and operated clutch manufacturer in the world released its plants to expand its Atmore facility.
The CGEDA is an organization formed to promote Conecuh, Monroe and Escambia counties as one region, and rather than promoting industries that employ 250 to 500, they focus on small industries that will pay higher wages.

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