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County jobless claims dip

Following two months of increased jobless rates, Franklin County saw a slight decrease in March, dropping from February’s rate of 8.9 percent to 8.2 percent.
That total represents 1,087 county residents who filed jobless claims.
Alabama Department of Labor Commissioner Tom Surtees announced Friday that Alabama’s preliminary March unemployment rate remained unchanged at 7.2 percent. March 2012’s rate was also 7.2 percent.
March’s statewide rate represents 155,071 unemployed persons, compared to 154,790 last month and 156,224 last year.
“This month we continued to see the labor force grow, which tells us that more people are re-gaining confidence in the job market. We also saw the number of people with jobs grow by nearly 7,000, with only a slight increase in the number of unemployed,” Surtees said. “Even though the rate didn’t decrease, these are still positive signs.
“We always urge people to look at trends in the unemployment numbers, rather than simply looking at only the monthly data in order to get a better picture of the job market. For example, we’ve seen consistent increases in the number of people employed since August of last year – with the exception of January, which is to be expected as holiday hiring winds down.
“Additionally, 66 of 67 counties, along with all of the state’s metropolitan areas, saw their unemployment rates drop this month. Lamar County saw a drop as large as 1.9 percentage points, which is great news.”
Eight Alabama counties saw decreases in their unemployment rates of 1.5 percentage points or greater. These counties are: Barbour, Bullock, Choctaw, Cleburne, Conecuh, Lamar, Marion and Winston.
Counties with the lowest unemployment rates were: Shelby County at 4.7 percent, Blount County at 5.6 percent and Lee County at 5.8 percent. Counties with the highest unemployment rates were: Wilcox County at 16.4 percent, Lowndes County at 13.4 percent and Dallas County at 12.8 percent.
In northwest Alabama, rates were as follows: Lauderdale County at 6.1 percent, Colbert County at 6.9 percent, Lawrence County at 7.9 percent, Winston County at 9.1 percent and Marion County at 8.4 percent.