Jobless numbers, benefits down

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 31, 2012

The good news is that Covington County’s and Alabama’s unemployment dropped again in February.

The bad news is that the decline means the unemployed won’t be eligible for extended federal benefits triggered by high rates.

Alabama’s February unemployment ate dropped to 7.6 percent, down from 7.8 percent in January and 9.3 percent in the same time period last year.

In Covington County, the jobless rate fell to 8.3 percent, down from 9.9 percent in the same time period last year.

In the areas surrounding Covington County, Coffee County was third lowest in the state at 6.4 percent. Geneva County was 7.6 percent; Escambia County was 9.5 percent; Butler County’s rate was 11.8 percent; Crenshaw’s was 7.5; and Conecuh’s was 12.9.

Shelby County had the state’s lowest unemployment rate at 5.6 percent; Wilcox County had the highest at 16.9 percent.

While the declining jobless rate is good news, the steady decline means that claimants who are currently receiving extended unemployment compensation (UC) benefits will see significant changes in the number of weeks they are eligible to receive benefits, the Department of Industrial Relations said.

Alabama residents have been eligible to receive up to 99 weeks of benefits through a combination of state and federal programs. They will now be eligible for only 73 weeks of benefits.

-Michele Gerlach