Statewide unemployment rate for May jumps higher than last year’s

Published 12:21 pm Monday, June 20, 2011

By AMY JONES / Associate Editor

Alabama’s May unemployment rate jumped to 9.6 percent, up from April’s unemployment rate of 9.3 percent and higher than the May 2010 rate of 9.5 percent.

Shelby County’s unemployment rate also saw an increase, up to 6.9 percent in May from 6.5 percent in April. However, Shelby still has the lowest unemployment rate of all Alabama counties.

Alabama Department of Industrial Relations Director Tom Surtees said the statewide increase could be attributed to several factors, including the impact of the April tornadoes. To date, the Department of Industrial Relations has received more than 6,400 storm-related unemployment claims.

Additionally, the labor force has increased due to high school and college graduations, as well as schools letting out for the summer, Surtees said in a press release.

Finally, the national unemployment rate has shown an increase, up from 8.8 percent in March to 9.1 percent in May, and Alabama is following the national trend.

“While we are disappointed to report an increase of three-tenths of a point in our unemployment rate, we have to keep the big picture in mind,” Surtees said. “We knew that the devastating storms we suffered in April were going to have an impact on unemployment. This is something that we could not have foreseen.”

The counties with the lowest unemployment rates were Shelby, Coffee County at 7.3 percent, and Pike and Madison counties at 7.9 percent. The counties with the highest unemployment rates were Wilcox County at 21.7 percent, Perry County at 17.3 percent and Monroe County at 16.3 percent.