By David Palmer
The Cullman Times
Cullman County’s unemployment rate dropped continued to decline, falling to 5.7 percent in December, according to figures released by Gov. Robert Bentley’s office.
Along with the local drop in unemployment, the state’s rate fell to 7.1 percent. Alabama’s December rate is also below the national total of 7.8 percent unemployment.
For the state, December’s decline continues a positive trend. The state unemployment rate for November was 7.5 percent. The rate in December 2011 stood at 8 percent.
Cullman County’s figure was down from 5.8 percent in November and 6.9 percent in December 2011.
“Hiring is on the increase, certainly with some of our major manufacturers in the area,” said Peggy Smith, director of Cullman Economic Development Agency. “Companies that relocate or expand want to know where their workforce is coming from and if they are trained. Wallace State Community College continues to an important incentive when you look at our area.”
The most recent economic news in Cullman County was last week’s official announcement that REHAU is investing more than $100 million in its Cullman facility to meet the demands of a contract with Mercedes-Benz. The investment will create more than 200 new jobs in Cullman County.
While the automotive industry continues to make a strong showing across Alabama, Smith said additional opportunities may be around the corner for local economic development.
“One thing we’re exploring is the aerospace and aviation industry. We have skilled workers in this field and we feel there may be some potential to build upon this in the future,” Smith said. “One point that is so good for us here is that you can go to Dr. (Vicki) Hawsey at Wallace State and discuss programs and options that can help with new industries and expansions, and she will always listen and knows how to help us every time.”
Alabama’s number of unemployed residents has dropped by nearly 22,000 people in the last 12 months.
“Still, we must remember that many people are looking for work. Job creation remains my number-one priority, and I will continue working every day to bring more jobs to Alabama,” said Gov. Bentley in a statement from his press office.
David Palmer may be contacted at email@example.com or 256-734-2131, ext. 213.