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Jobless rate down

By By Kerry Whipple Bean
Alabama’s unemployment rate held steady in February, but Escambia County’s was down, but employment rose, small signs of a slow recovery, Alabama Department of Industrial Relations officials said.
Alabama’s unemployment rate was 11.1 percent, while Escambia County’s was at 13.2 percent, down from 13.9 percent in January. The number of employed residents in Escambia County was 12,097 in February, up slightly from 12,058 in January.
Employment across the state grew by 11,300 in February, according to DIR statistics.
The number of people filing new claims in February was about 25,000; new claims in the same month a year ago were 41,000. New claims in February 2008 were 20,000.
But counties surrounding Escambia still had some of the highest unemployment rates in the state, with Monroe County at 21.4 percent and Conecuh County at 20.3 percent. The state’s lowest rates were Madison County, at 8.3 percent, and Shelby and Coffee counties, both at 8.5 percent.
Gov. Bob Riley said the increase in employment was good news, but he said he hoped lawmakers would pass legislation to help boost jobs.
Riley said lawmakers are running out of time to pass the legislation.
Sen. Marc Keahey has also introduced legislation to provide tax incentives to businesses that hire unemployed Alabama workers.