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Unemployment at 18-month low

Covington County’s unemployment rate has reached its lowest point in 18 months.

July unemployment dropped to 8.7 percent, which was down from the 9.4 percent reported in June, and 10.2 percent at the same point last year.

Department of Industrial Relations spokesperson Tara Hutchison said the last time Covington County was at or below 8.7 percent was in January 2009 when it was 8.5 percent. The month prior the unemployment rate was 6.6 percent.

The county’s decrease mimicked the state’s, which fell to 9.7 percent in July from 10.3 percent in June.

The state department of industrial relations reports the state is at its lowest rate recorded in 15 months, when unemployment was 9.7 percent.

“We are happy to announce a drop in our unemployment rate,” Director Tom Surtees said. “This is the lowest rate we have seen in over a year. We’ve seen our rate stabilizing over the past several months, and, hopefully, July’s rate will be the beginning of a continual drop in Alabama’s unemployment.”

Surtees said overall the state is showing signs of progression.

“We are also seeing even more encouraging signs in our monthly data,” he said. “The number of first payments made to unemployment compensation claimant is now below 2007 levels. In July, we also saw the lowest number of weeks claimed so far this year.”

Neighboring counties also saw decreases from June’s numbers.

Escambia sits at 10.9 percent; Conecuh at 16.1 percent; Butler at 12.2 percent; Crenshaw at 8.5 percent; Coffee at 7.4 percent and Geneva at 8.6 percent.