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Unemployment rate drops across state

Despite what seems like an oppressive economy locally, unemployment rates for all of Alabama, including the counties that make up the Black Belt region, dropped last month.

According to numbers released by the Department of Industrial Relations, not a single Alabama county had an unemployment rate more than a single digit. Even Perry and Wilcox counties, both of which saw unemployment rates of 11 percent for February, have reduced the rate to 9.2 and 8.9 percent, respectively.

“We’re blessed to have a strong and growing economy with thousands of new jobs being created,” Gov. Bob Riley said in a recent statement. “Businesses are hiring, new companies are choosing to build here and existing industries are expanding across the state. We’re on a roll.”

John Matson, deputy press secretary to the governor, said the Black Belt is seeing an increase because of Gov. Riley’s push for economic development in this region.

“Gov. Riley has charged the Economic Development Board with aggressively pursuing companies that are looking at Alabama,” Matson said. “If there’s a company looking to locate here we try to see if we can meet their needs in the Black Belt.”

He said the governor’s outlook for the future is good.

“He feels our economy is growing,” Matson said.

According to the Department of Industrial Relations, Alabama’s unemployment rate is 4.7, the lowest it has been in four years, coming in well below the national average of 5.2 percent.

Additionally, between February and March, the number of Alabamians with jobs rose by 10,800. This time last year, the state’s unemployment rate was 5.7 percent.