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Unemployment holds steady

Franklin County’s unemployment rate held steady in February matching January’s total of 8.9 percent.

That is about the same as last year’s total of 8.8 percent for the same time period, but is well above the figures reported throughout the fall and into December. The current rate represents 1,174 county residents that filed jobless claims in February. That is 11 more people than who filed in January.

The statewide average for Febriary rose to 7.2 percent, up from the previous month’s total of 6.9 percent.

February’s rate represents 154,885 unemployed persons, compared to 148,663 last month, and 155,673 last year.

“While we did experience a slight uptick in the unemployment rate this month, we also saw an increase in the number of people working, both over the past month and the past year,” said Alabama Department of Labor Commissioner Tom Surtees.

“We’ve also seen an increase in the number of people in the labor force. This tells us that some people are regaining confidence in the job market and are looking for work again.”

The number of people employed in February was 2,002,810, up from 1,999,493 in January, and also up from 2,000,021 in February 2012.

The Civilian Labor Force (CLF), increased in February to 2,157,695, up from 2,148,156 in January. It is also above the 2,155,694 recorded in February 2012. The CLF is made up of people who have a job or are seeking a job.

“Going hand in hand with the increases in the number of employed, we are also seeing increases in the number of jobs in several sectors, including manufacturing and leisure and hospitality,” Surtees said.

“Additionally, initial unemployment compensation claims were down by more than fifty percent from last month. This represents stabilization in initial claims as the expected loss from seasonal hiring and temporary shutdowns begins to wane.”

Wage and salary employment increased 15,300 over the month. Increases were seen in the following sectors: government, professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, educational and health services, manufacturing, and construction, among others. The only sector to lose jobs over the month was financial activities.

The counties with the lowest unemployment rates in February are: Shelby County at 5.6 percent, Lee County at 6.4 percent and Blount County at 6.5 percent. The counties with the highest unemployment rates in February are: Wilcox County at 17.6 percent, Lowndes County at 14.5 percent and Dallas County at 13.8 percent.

In northwest Alabama, county totals were: Lauderdale County at 7.3 percent, Colbert County at 8.1 percent, Lawrence County at 9.3 percent, Marion County at 10.4 percent and Winston County at 10.8 percent.