State, county unemployment rates drop

Published 2:26 pm Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Gov. Robert Bentley announced on Friday that Alabama’s preliminary unemployment rate dropped from 8.5 percent in August to 8.3 percent in September.

September’s rate represents 177,848 unemployed persons, down from 183,267 last month and 192,667 in September 2011.

“More Alabamians are working this month, and that is certainly good news for the state,” Bentley said. “We still have a long way to go, and I will continue doing everything I can to put Alabamians back to work.”

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Butler County’s unemployment rate also dropped in September.

It fell nearly a point from 12.7 percent in August to 11.4 percent in September. In September of 2011, Butler County’s unemployment rate was 11.9 percent.

Alabama Department of Labor Director Tom Surtees said the drop is not unexpected.

“This drop in the unemployment rate is more consistent with what we’ve been seeing over the past few months: unemployment claims going down, fewer WARN notices, and record numbers of available jobs,” Surtees said.

The number of initial unemployment claims dropped by 19 percent from last year.  There were 18,525 initial claims in September, compared to 22,890 last year.

Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) notices are required submissions when businesses employing more than 100 are planning a mass layoff or closing. Thus far this year, the state’s Rapid Response unit has received notification of 3,977 layoffs, compared to 14,184 in 2009, the height of the recession.

“As far as unemployment compensation goes, nearly every indicator we measure is well below pre-recession levels. Claims data don’t directly impact the unemployment rate, but they do allow us to gauge the frequency with which people are losing their jobs,” Surtees said.

The counties with the lowest unemployment rates were: Shelby County at 5.2 percent, Coffee County at 6.2 percent and Lee, Limestone, and Madison Counties at 6.4 percent.

The counties with the highest unemployment rates were: Wilcox County at 17.8 percent, Bullock County at 15.4 percent and Dallas County at 15.1 percent.

Lowndes County’s unemployment rate fell from 14.4 percent in August to 13.2 percent in September. Crenshaw County’s unemployment rate for the same period dropped from 8.1 percent to 7.5 percent.