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Jobless claims down again

For the second month in a row, Covington County saw a decrease in the number of unemployed residents.

Covington County’s unemployment rate dropped to 10.3 in March from February’s 10.5.

Figures released Friday from the state Department of Industrial Relations showed the county saw 1,653 claims for unemployment compensation in February – a number down by 12 from the previous month.

The county’s unemployment numbers are expected to continue to taper off, with expansions in several areas throughout the county.

Future job opportunities have been announced in the past couple of months and include some 150 jobs as an effect of an expansion by SaeHaeSung, a proposed biomass refinery in the Lockhart-Florala area and most recently a expansion to Opp’s Custom Collars, which is expected to create around 15 new jobs.

Statewide, unemployment rates saw a slight decrease from February, dropping 1 percentage point to 11 percent from previous month.

Covington County was ranked 16th lowest overall, with Madison County having the lowest rate at 8.1 percent. Rounding out the top five lowest, were Shelby County at 8.3, neighboring county, Coffee at 8.3 percent, Autauga County at 8.7 and Pike County at 8.8 percent.

Other counties are still struggling to drop their rate back into the teens, as Wilcox County reported 24.8 percent, Monroe was 20.4 and nearby Conecuh was 19.4.

Compared to surrounding counties, Coffee and Crenshaw have lower unemployment rates than Covington. Crenshaw reported a 10 percent unemployment rate.

The county tied with Geneva at 10.3 percent and was lower than Escambia’s 12.6 percent, Butler’s 14.6 percent and Conecuh.

Department of Industrial Relations Director Tom Surtees warned Friday that while the state and country are seeing an increase, it may be too soon to tell if this will continue.

“While we are certainly pleased to see a small decrease in the unemployment rate, I want

to caution everyone that we are not out of the woods just yet,” Surtees said. “For the

second month in a row, we have seen an increase in wage and salary employment, and

that’s a good sign. Hopefully, these positive signs will continue to come our way as we

continue to pay benefits in an extremely timely manner to Alabamians that need them.”