State, county jobless rates fall

Published 8:53 am Friday, September 17, 2010

Alabama Department of Industrial Relations Director Tom Surtees announced Friday that Alabama’s August unemployment rate dropped to 9.2 percent, down half a percent from July. The comparable rate for August 2009 was 10.6 percent.

“[This] news is certainly good news,” said Surtees. “This marks the first time in nearly two years that Alabama’s unemployment rate has been below the national average. That is most definitely a sign that Alabama’s economy is slowly but surely recovering from this economic recession.”

Marengo County fared nearly as well as its jobless rate fell .3 points to 12.5 percent. Sumter’s rate fell to 14.7 percent, down .2 percent from July.

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Marengo’s current jobless rate is nearly 1.5 percent lower than August 2009.

Governor Bob Riley said the data released Friday showed that the state has begun to shake its streak of bad luck.

“A trend is developing that’s clear, positive and very good. From April to August, Alabama’s unemployment rate has fallen from 11 percent to 9.2 percent — almost two full percentage points,” he said. “To see such a significant drop in just four months is incredible. During the past few weeks, we’ve had several major announcements of new industries coming to our state and we’re working to win others before the end of the year. For so long, Alabama had one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation. Then this devastating recession hit. Then the oil disaster in the Gulf. Considering all the people on our coast who are hurting and still unemployed, it’s remarkable that our statewide jobless rate has fallen.”

The national unemployment rate for August 2009 is 9.6 percent. The last time Alabama’s unemployment rate was below the national average was November of 2008, when our rate was 6.7 percent, compared to the national rate of 6.9 percent.

August’s rate represents 192,825 unemployed persons, down from July’s 202,308. In August 2009, there were 223,585 unemployed persons in the state.

“We have been seeing drops in our unemployment rate over the past four months,” Surtees continued. “While we are certainly upbeat about the positive signs we are seeing, we cannot forget that there are still over 190,000 Alabamians without work.”

Wage and salary employment declined 2,800 over the month with majority of the losses occurring in the leisure and hospitality industry and the trade, transportation, and utilities industry.