State jobless rate down, local rate up

Published 5:10 pm Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Alabama Department of Industrial Relations Director Tom Surtees announced Tuesday that the state’s January unemployment rate was 7.8 percent, down from December 2011’s rate of 8.0, and well below January 2011’s rate of 9.3 percent.

The new state number is the lowest jobless rate in three years.

Marengo County didn’t fair nearly as well. The local rate rocketed a full percent to 10.7, up from 9.7 in December. The January 2012 rate is still significantly lower than the 13.4 percent posted in January 2011.

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“I am happy to see this positive trend of our unemployment rate falling month after month continue,” Surtees said. “However, I want to remind everyone that there are still over 160,000 Alabamians out there who want a job and don’t have one. Others have left the work force. The point is, we are still not where we need to be, and job growth and creation need to remain our top priority.”

Governor Robert Bentley shared Director Surtees’ sentiments.

“It is encouraging to see our unemployment level drop to its lowest point in more than three years,” Bentley said. “Still, we must continue to make sure everyone who wants a job is able to find one. We will continue our efforts to create new jobs and to help retain the employers we have here in Alabama.”

“We’re also seeing initial unemployment compensation claims and benefit payments are very nearly at 2008 – pre-recession – levels,” Surtees continued. “The number of first-time payments is below 2008 levels. In addition, our active job orders on our statewide jobs database are higher than they’ve been in four years. All of these stats point to a recovering economy.”

Marengo County’s rate represents 820 out-of-work residents compared to 750 in December and 1,060 in January 2011.

Initial claims for January 2012 were 36,824, compared to 45,043 in January 2011, 40,535 in January 2010, and 61,033 in January 2009. The comparable claims number in January 2008 was 35,766.

Benefit payments for January 2012 were $35,190,120, compared to $37,619,359 in January 2011, $49,154,145 in January 2010, and $52,602,310 in January 2009. The comparable benefit payments number in January 2008 was $26,301,965.

First time payments for January 2012 were 18,594, compared to 20,608 in January 2011, 23,727 in January 2010, and 32,483 in January 2009. The comparable first-time payments number in January 2008 were 20,338. Active job orders on January 2012 were 11,853, compared to 10,590 in January 2011, 7,377 in January 2010, and 5,846 in January 2009. The comparable numbers of job orders in January 2008 was 3,134.