County unemployment rate remains lowest in Alabama

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Gas prices may be high, but they are one of the many factors contributing to low unemployment in Shelby County, says Butch Burbage, county finance manager.

In comparison to the national unemployment rate of 4.6 percent, Shelby County&8217;s unemployment rate adds up to only 2 percent and is the lowest in Alabama.

With more people making money, more people are spending, but higher gas prices have driven families to do their shopping closer to home.

&8220;Where before people used to drive up to the Galleria or the Summit to go shopping,&8221; Burbage said, &8220;now they are shopping at places in Shelby, like the new stores in Colonial Promenade.&8221;

Due to a lack of applicants, salaries for employees are also increasing. Businesses who are used to paying minimum wage offer more money for starting salaries to entice potential employees.

Burbage said the increase in jobs and salaries, which in turn generates more spending, can be &8220;a vicious circle.&8221;

&8220;If there are less people to hire to keep up with the supply side of things, then the prices will go up,&8221; Burbage explained. He quickly added, however, &8220;It&8217;s a good spiral to have. The majority of people that want to work, do work. Everyone who wants a job, has a job.&8221;

In Shelby County, this greater number of jobs has caused fewer households to go on public assistance. Chris M. Monceret, director of Shelby County Human Resources said, &8220;The number of families on food stamps is also lower than average in the state,&8221; explaining, &8220;When people are able to work, they are able to take better care of their families.&8221;