Jobless claims down to ’08 levels

Published 12:24 am Saturday, April 21, 2012

Unemployment – both locally and statewide – have dropped to levels not seen since 2008.

Statistics released Friday by the department of industrial relations showed that Alabama’s March preliminary unemployment rate dropped to 7.3 percent, down from February’s revised rate of 7.5 percent.

The last time Alabama’s unemployment rate was at 7.3 percent was in December of 2008.

“We are encouraged to see that Alabama’s unemployment rate has dropped once again, and we will continue our efforts to see that everyone who is looking for work is able to find it,” Gov. Robert Bentley said. “Fortunately, we are also continuing to see record numbers of job postings on JobLink. I want to strongly encourage anyone seeking a job to go online and register, or go visit a local Career Center for some assistance.”

Locally, unemployment dropped from 8.2 percent in February to 7.7 percent in March. That represents 1,196 claims for unemployment. This time last year, the rate was at 8.8 percent.

The counties with the lowest unemployment rates were: Shelby at 5.1 percent, Coffee at 6.0 percent and Lee at 6.2 percent. The counties with the highest unemployment rates were Wilcox at 16.1 percent, Lowndes at 15.3 percent, and Dallas at 13.4 percent

Alabama’s online jobs database, registered more job postings in March than at any time since 2008 (with the exception of spikes due to temporary jobs following the Gulf Oil Spill and the 2011 April tornadoes). There were 12,788 jobs posted in March.

“Additionally, we continue to see our initial weekly claims for unemployment compensation drop to pre-recession levels,” Tom Surtees, Director of the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations said. “This means fewer people are losing their jobs. Of those that are receiving benefits, the average duration is getting shorter – most are receiving benefits for about 17 weeks, meaning that people are going back to work faster.”