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Unemployment at 7.3 percent after eight months on the decline
Alabama’s unemployment rate just keeps falling.
Bolstered by new service industry jobs, the state’s jobless rate fell for the eighth straight month in March to 7.3 percent. That’s down from 7.5 percent in February and a high of 10 percent in July of last year. Alabama’s rate was also below the national rate of 8.2 percent for March.
The state Department of Industrial Relations, which released the numbers Friday, said the last time Alabama’s unemployment rate was this low was December 2008.
Autauga County fell to 6.4 percent unemployment in March and the county now holds the sixth lowest jobless rate in the state. The county held the fourth lowest rate in February, at 6.9 percent, but now more counties are matching their success.
Some areas of the state showed a decline in the number of people filing for unemployment because the overall job force is shrinking faster than the job market. That’s not the case in the River Region, where the jobless rate fell despite the fact that few people left the labor force.
Numbers released by the state show Montgomery County added 500 service industry jobs in March, which brought the county’s jobless rate to 7.4 percent, down half a percentage point from February.
Elmore County’s total hit 7 percent in March, down from 7.4 percent in February.
The state as a whole benefited from a surge in new service industry jobs, which includes trade, transportation and utility related work. State figures show 11,200 new workers in those jobs in March. The increases include new jobs in the leisure and hospitality industry, the manufacturing industry and the professional and business services industry.
State Industrial Relations Director Tom Surtees said initial claims for unemployment have fallen to pre-recession levels.
“This means fewer people are losing their jobs,” Surtees said in a release. “Of those that are receiving benefits, the average duration is getting shorter — most are receiving benefits for about 17 weeks, meaning that people are going back to work faster.”
Alabama counties with the lowest unemployment rates are Shelby at 5.1 percent; Coffee at 6.0 percent; and Lee at 6.2 percent.
Counties with the highest rates are Wilcox at 16.1 percent; Lowndes at 15.3 percent; and Dallas at 13.4 percent.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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