By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Friday, Governor Robert Bentley released a written statement announcing that Alabama’s March preliminary unemployment rate had dropped to just 7.3%. That is down from February’s revised rate of 7.5%.
Gov. Bentley said, “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. 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.”
Director of the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations Tom Surtees said, “Additionally, we continue to see our initial weekly claims for unemployment compensation drop to pre-recession levels. 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.”
Alabama’s unemployment rate has not been this low since December of 2008, when Pres. George W. Bush was still in office. In March, Alabama had 157,378 unemployed persons, that is down from 161,795 the month before, and a massive drop from this time last year when 203,799 Alabama residents were unemployed. Alabama and Michigan have seen the greatest drops in unemployment rates over the last 12 months (-2.0 percentage points each). 16 other states reports significant unemployment rate drops over the last year.
Alabama’s online jobs database, www.joblink.alabama.gov posted 12,788 jobs in March. That is the highest number since 2008 except for temporary jobs after the Gulf Oil Spill and the 2011 April tornadoes.
Total employment increased 12,200 over the month of February. There were job increases reported in the trade, transportation, utilities, leisure and hospitality, manufacturing industry, and professional and business services industries.
The county with the lowest unemployment rate is Shelby County with just 5.1%. They are followed by Coffee County at 6.0% and Lee County at 6.2%. The counties with the highest unemployment rates are in the Blackbelt: Wilcox County has 16.1% unemployment, Lowndes County is at 15.3%, and Dallas County has a 13.4% unemployment rate.
Nationally the unemployment rate changed very little. The rate nationally is 8.2%. Nevada continues to record the highest unemployment rate in the nation with 12% in March. Rhode Island and California posted the next highest rates, with 11.1 and 11% respectively. Thanks to their oil and gas boom North Dakota again registered the lowest jobless rate in the country with only 3%, followed by Nebraska at 4%.
Supporters of Alabama’s anti-Illegal Immigration bill, the Hammon-Beason Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act, credit passage of the anti-illegal immigration act (HB 56) for helping spark the dramatic turn around here in Alabama.
Governor Robert Bentley was elected in 2010 promising that his administration would focus on lowering Alabama’s unemployment.
To read the Governor’s press release in its entirety: