According to a Friday report from the Alabama Department of Labor, the county's unemployment rate stayed steady between November and December. The report shows the county's number of unemployed decreased to 3,111 residents in December from 3,147 residents in November. However, the number of employed residents also dropped to 47,951 workers in December from 48,708 workers in November. That decrease is due to a loss of 100 manufacturing jobs. Also, the county's total civilian labor force — the total number of people able to work and seeking jobs — decreased to 51,062 in December from 51,855 in November.
The statistics indicate some residents left the workforce and were not counted.
The unemployment rate is determined through a combination of counting people on payrolls and home surveys that ask residents whether they are employed or are looking for a job. People who run out of unemployment benefits but are still unemployed are not counted. People who say they have stopped looking for work are not counted either.
Still, the county's December unemployment rate was better than the 6.8 percent rate it had in December 2012.
Meanwhile, the state average unemployment rate saw a slight decrease to 6.1 percent in December from 6.2 percent in November. Like Calhoun County, the state experienced a decrease in size of the labor force — to approximately 2.11 million workers in December from 2.13 million workers in November — and no growth in employment.
However, the last time the state had an unemployment rate at or below 6.1 percent was in October 2008, when it was 5.9 percent.
"While we are certainly pleased to announce that our unemployment rate is at a five-year low, we know that we are not in the perfect situation employment-wise," Tom Surtees, state labor department commissioner, was quoted as saying in a Friday press release. "There are still more than 120,000 Alabamians who want a job and we must focus our efforts on helping those people find work."
Counties with the lowest unemployment rates in December were Shelby County at 3.8 percent, Lee County at 4.7 percent and St. Clair and Cullman Counties at 4.8 percent. The counties with the highest unemployment rates were Wilcox County at 14.2 percent, Bullock County at 11.6 percent and Perry County at 11.4 percent.
Staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star.