Numbers released by the Alabama Department of Labor today show Calhoun County added around 200 jobs last month. That’s an increase of more than 1,000 jobs from the total in November 2011. The unemployment rate decreased to 6.9 percent to 8.1 percent from October to November, while dropping a full percentage point from November 2011’s 7.9 percent rate.
Half of the new jobs in November came in the retail industry, meaning temporary seasonal employment is at least part of the reason for the jump, but a gain of 11,000 jobs statewide is still good news for the economy, said Keivan Deravi, an economist at Auburn University Montgomery.
“That’s a surprisingly high number,” Deravi said. “That’s a very large number relative to what we were getting last year, and up to September of this year.”
Deravi said those numbers aren’t unique to Alabama, either. The fourth quarter of 2012 showed significant improvements from 2011 throughout the country.
“I think the economy is certainly doing better in the fourth quarter of 2012 then it was in 2011,” said Robert Robicheaux, chairman of the department of marketing, industrial distribution and economics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “Holiday retail sales are up, and there’s been a positive impact in home sales as well, which signifies Alabama is doing a little better.”
Robicheaux said any positive gain from the holiday season could quickly erode depending on what happens in Washington with regards to the so-called fiscal cliff, which could cause significant federal spending cuts and tax increases next year.
“There are so many things that might or might not happen in 2013,” Robicheaux said. “If we’re able to avoid the fiscal cliff, businesses will have some confidence in expanding and making investments.”
Deravi said that in a worst-case scenario, if leaders in Washington reach no compromise tax increases in February could have a slow-down effect over the first several months of 2013, but predicts that even a “recession-like environment” might correct itself over time.
“It won’t be falling off a cliff, it’ll be a bungee jump,” Deravi said. “Still, it’ll be a shock.”
Staff writer Brian Anderson: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @BAnderson_Star.