“If someone wants to work, they can find a job.”
By Bonita Wilborn
According to reports compiled by the DeKalb County Economic Development Authority (DCEDA), DeKalb County experienced a 12.6% unemployment rate in 2009, but that number has gone down considerably as their 2017 reports show only 4.5%.
The year 2007 saw a decrease of sock mills in DeKalb County from 50 separate businesses to only 17 active businesses. According to the current DCEDA reports, those 17 hosiery and sock mill businesses that remain in DeKalb County employ 1,188 people.
Although the loss of the sock mill jobs was certainly devastating to the local economy, in 2007, DCEDA Executive Director Jimmy Durham commented that recent increases in employment opportunities over the past decade have facilitated a drop in the unemployment rate.
According to Durham, “When the hosiery industry in the county went under, our unemployment percentages would have been a lot higher had it not been for the fact that people in the hosiery industry that had 30 – 40 years under their belt chose to retire rather than look for other jobs.”
The newest report on DeKalb County unemployment rates, by the Alabama Department of Labor, as of September 2018, listed DeKalb County’s unemployment rate as 3.4%, giving an additional 0.2% less than September 2017.
According to Durham, the main cause of the increase in employment can be linked to expansions made to existing businesses, with an expected increase to 0.1% over the next decade, with the anticipation of an even greater increase for positions requiring post graduate, bachelor, and associate degrees or certificates.
Durham said, “Due to the growth in DeKalb County industries, there are still plenty of jobs out there, for anyone looking for work. Anyone looking for work should pay attention to the help wanted signs or seek help from the North Alabama Skill Center located at, 2100 Jordan Rd SW in Fort Payne.” For information about the application process, you can call the skill center at 256-844-4709.
Durham said, “Our primary goal [DCEDA] is working with existing industries and we recruit new industries to the area. We work with all the existing companies, junior colleges, and high schools to develop skills for our workforce.”
Having enough skilled workers to fill the jobs that require that type employee is, not just a DeKalb County issue, it is a nationwide problem.