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Jobless rate inches higher

Alabama’s unemployment rate continued to inch higher as the nation deals with an uncertain economy. The state’s jobless rate was up from 5.3 percent in September to 5.6 percent in October, according to data released by the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations on Friday.

“While the October rate does represent an increase from last month, Alabama is still one of the most fortunate states in the region because we continue recording job growth in Alabama,” said Tom Surtees, ADIR Director. “Annually, we’ve seen a large boost of jobs in several areas, like professional and business services, financial activities, and leisure and hospitality.”

Butler County’s unemployment rate held at 8.4 percent, but it will almost certainly take a hit in November when jobless claims are filed. Chapman Forest Products, one of the county’s largest employers, announced a layoff of approximately 70 of its workers earlier this month due to the poor state of the housing market. Construction of new homes has hit its lowest level since the federal government began keeping records in 1959, reported the Associated Press on Wednesday.

Butler County’s unemployment in October 2007 was 5.4 percent.

In surrounding counties both Wilcox (12.8 percent) and Lowndes (11 percent) had two of the highest jobless rates in the state.

October’s rate represents 120,590 unemployed people, compared to 115,333 in September.

Butler County saw nine more people file jobless claims in October versus September, from 751 to 760.

The jobless rate is the highest in Alabama since February 2004.