Jobless claims slightly rise

With recent news of the closing of the International Paper mill in Courtland, unemployment rates across northwest Alabama are expected to change dramatically over the next six months.

But when reports for August were released Friday, most in the area had held steady.

Franklin County’s jobless claims rose to 8.2 percent in August, up from July’s reported total of 7.6 percent.

That total represents 1,068 residents who filed unemployment claims. That is an increase of 72 people from the previous month, but is more than 100 people fewer than from the same time period a year ago.

Alabama Department of Labor Commissioner Tom Surtees announced that Alabama’s preliminary August unemployment rate is 6.3 percent, which is slightly up from July’s revised rate of 6.2 percent, but significantly lower than last August’s rate of 7.5 percent. August’s statewide rate represents 134,367 unemployed persons, compared to 134,847 last month and 161,435 in August 2012.

“Alabama’s August unemployment rate doesn’t really show much change over the month,” Surtees said.

“While we saw a slight increase in jobs, we didn’t really see much change in the number of people who remain unemployed. Getting these people back to work continues to be our top priority.”

Wage and salary employment, or the measure of the number of jobs in the economy, increased 3,400 in August, with gains in the professional and business services sector, the educational and health services sector, and the government sector.

“Although the numbers indicate that fewer people are actively looking for jobs this month, this is somewhat expected at this time of year,” Surtees said.

“It is not uncommon for the labor force to decline in August, as students leave the labor market to go to school, and those in the education field return to work. We are encouraged by the fact that nearly 20,000 more people are working this August than were last August.”

The counties with the lowest unemployment rates are: Shelby County at 4.5 percent, Lee County at 5.5 percent and Cullman and Baldwin Counties at 5.6 percent. The counties with the highest unemployment rates are: Wilcox County at 16 percent, Dallas County at 14.1 percent and Perry County at 14 percent.

In northwest Alabama, the reported totals were: Lauderdale County at 6.3 percent, Colbert County at 7.1 percent, Lawrence County at 7.1 percent, Marion county at 8.3 percent and Winston County at 9.2 percent.

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