Alabama jobless rate up to 6 percent, Alabama officials vow to protect Mobile ship factory

Dec 18, 2015

Alabama's unemployment rate is up slightly from a month ago. A-P-R’s Stan Ingold reports, officials say it isn’t entirely bad news…

Labor statistics released today show the state's jobless rate rose one-tenth of a percent to 6 percent in November.

A statement from Labor Commissioner Fitzgerald Washington says the increase isn't necessarily bad news because it indicates more people are entering the workforce.

The state's jobless rate is the same as a year ago at 6 percent. But the state unemployment rate is still 1 percentage point above the national rate of 5 percent.

Shelby County in metro Birmingham has the state's lowest unemployment rate at 4 percent. Wilcox County in western Alabama has the highest unemployment at 13.5 percent.

Officials are hoping a new Defense Department proposal won't affect a major employer in Mobile.

The Pentagon this week said it wants to reduce production of the Navy's Littoral Combat Ship, which is made to navigate in shallow coastal waters. Different versions of the ship are made by Austal in Mobile and by Fincantieri Marinette Marine in Wisconsin.

Austal employs more than 4,000 people and members of Alabama’s congressional delegation are lining up to protect the manufacturing program.

Rep. Bradley Byrne of Fairhope says the Pentagon proposal comes from a lame duck administration. And Sen. Jeff Sessions of Mobile is calling the plan to reduce production a "monumental error."

The Defense Department plan would have the Navy eliminate one of the two ship manufacturers.

Alabama’s embattled Department of Corrections is now being criticized for housing youth inmates in adult facilities.

Forty one youth offenders are currently locked up alongside adult inmates at corrections facilities in Alabama. That’s according to a report released earlier this month by the Campaign for Youth Justice, a national advocacy organization.

Carmen Daugherty** is the policy director for the Campaign for Youth Justice. She says housing youth inmates alongside adults contributes to those youths landing back in prison in the future.

 “The reality is, 90% of these youths who are sentenced as adults return to the community before their 25th birthday. And we have to ask ourselves, ‘What have we done to help this young person to truly become rehabilitated in our community?’”

In addition to higher recidivism rates, Daugherty says youth inmates housed alongside adults report significantly more instances of sexual abuse, from staff and from other prisoners.