County unemployment dips below 6 percent

By NICOLE LOGGINS/Staff Writer

COLUMBIANA — Shelby County again has the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 5.8 percent, according to the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations.

Shelby County Finance Manager Butch Burbage said there are multiple factors responsible for the low unemployment rate.

“We’ve worked really hard to try and get businesses to relocate to Shelby County and we’ve had some success with that,” he said. “We’re also known as a bedroom community for people who work in Birmingham and Montgomery.”

Burbage also attributed the rate to a more well-educated and motivated population.

“Our population has more people who have college degrees,” Burbage said. “A lot are two-wage earner type families. The businesses that are here see that we have a highly-motivated work force.”

Shelby County is home to numerous commuter families who reside in Shelby County but may work in Tuscaloosa, St. Clair or Jefferson counties.

“We know we have people who drive to Tuscaloosa county and St Clair counties for work,” Burbage said.

Burbage said the county is continuously trying to get more businesses to relocate to Shelby County and provide additional jobs.

“We’re trying to bring in new businesses all the time,” he said. “If we know of anybody out there, we try to offer them whatever we can to get them here.”

Burbage said the county unemployment rate may continue to improve but he is unsure of how much better it can get.

“I don’t think you’d ever see zero percent unemployment,” he said. “I think at the height of employment our unemployment rate has still never been at zero. I know it can get better, but how much better, I’m not sure.

“I’ve often heard it said that when you get down in the three, four or five percent range, normally, everybody who wants a job has a job. Anyone who wants a job is better able to find one now compared to the past four years with the recession we’ve gone through,” he added.