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Jobless totals hit 11 percent

Covington County – like Alabama – saw a rise in its unemployment rate to more than 11 percent in January – a figure that gave the state its highest mark in 26 years.

However, those figures could slowly decrease locally after announcements like the estimated 150 jobs set to be created by SaeHaeSung’s expansion and the 15 new jobs anticipated with the a proposed biomass refinery in the Florala/Lockhart area.

In addition, a proposed electronic bingo development in Florala could generate an additional 1,500 jobs.

Meanwhile, Shaw Industries is hiring.

Local Shaw manager Cary Baker said Tuesday the local industry, the county’s largest employer, has been and continues to hire entry-level employees.

“We’re looking for people with work experience, good background checks who are willing to learn what we teach them,” he said. “We offer good pay and benefits.”

Wednesday, the state Department of Industrial Relations reported the state’s unemployment rate was up from December’s revised 10.9 percent and has increased significantly from the 8.1 percent recorded a year ago.

The last time Alabama hit 11.1 percent unemployment was January 1984.

Locally, Covington County saw a 0.7 percentage point increase from December 2009’s 10.5 percent unemployment, bringing January’s total to 11.2 percent. That figure had Covington ranked 16th in the state for lowest unemployment. Only four counties recorded single-digit unemployment in January: Madison at 8.7 percent; Shelby at 8.8 percent; Coffee at 9.0 percent; and Pike at 9.9 percent.

Another four counties recorded unemployment topping 20 percent: Wilcox at 27.4 percent, Monroe at 22.4 percent, Conecuh at 21.8 percent, and Dallas at 21.1 percent.

Nationally, a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report released Wednesday Alabama tied with North Carolina for the eighth highest unemployment rate among the 50 states.

Ranking higher were Michigan, Nevada, Rhode Island, South Carolina, California, Florida and Illinois.