MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -
Belinda Byrd closed the lid on her jobless predicament back in March when she accepted a position with Montgomery Catering. The new job ended 3 months of being out of work, the longest period in her life without a steady paycheck.
"It was awful to be out of work for the first time in 25 years," Byrd said.
Byrd could very well be the face and the story of what seems to be an improving job picture in Alabama.
According to the U.S. Labor of Statistics, Alabama is leading the country with the largest drop in unemployment. Montgomery tied for the 32nd largest drop at 1.2%. The Florence-Muscle Shoals area had the second largest decline in the country. The declines occurred over the last 12 months.
"The people who hired you,you are blessed to be hired," Byrd said.
Byrd is keenly aware that while she is employed, so many others are not. It's estimated around 193,000 Alabamians aren't working, a reflection of the state's unemployment rate of 9.3% as of August. One year ago it was 10.6%.
So what's causing the significant drops?
"It's the auto industry," said Governor Bob Riley.
One example of that is the fact Hyundai Heavy Industries has hundreds of construction workers building its massive plant in south Montgomery County. Once it's built the company says it plans to create 1,000 jobs.
Hyundai Motor Manufacturing has also increased production to meet demand.
A word of encouragement from someone who's been to the bottom and back.
"Just keep your head up, something will come along God willing," said Byrd.
The state should find out in two days whether the jobless rate continues to drop, stabilize or go up when the new unemployment rate is released on Friday.