State jobless rate declines in August

Published 11:09 am Monday, September 20, 2010

Escambia County’s unemployment rate saw no change in August, although the state rate dropped a half-percentage point.

Escambia County’s rate was flat at 10.9 percent, higher than the state rate of 9.2 percent in August.

The U.S. jobless rate in August was 9.6 percent.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“Today’s news is certainly good news,” said Tom Surtees, executive director of the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations. “This marks the first time in nearly two years that Alabama’s unemployment rate has been below the national average. That is most definitely a sign that Alabama’s economy is slowly, but surely recovering from this economic recession.”

Escambia County’s unemployment rate represents 1,581 unemployed persons, up slightly from the previous month, out of a civilian labor force of 14,447.

The August rate is down significantly from a year ago, when 13.5 percent of Escambia County residents in the labor force were unemployed.

The state rate represents 192,825 unemployed persons, down about 9,500 from the previous month.

Gov. Bob Riley said the trend is positive.

“A trend is developing that’s clear, positive and very good,” he said in a statement. “From April to August, Alabama’s unemployment rate has fallen from 11 percent to 9.2 percent — almost two full percentage points. To see such a significant drop in just four months is incredible. During the past few weeks, we’ve had several major announcements of new industries coming to our state and we’re working to win others before the end of the year.”

Riley said the news was especially good considering the oil spill’s effect on the economy of the gulf coast.

“For so long, Alabama had one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation,” he said. “Then this devastating recession hit. Then the oil disaster in the gulf. Considering all the people on our coast who are hurting and still unemployed, it’s remarkable that our statewide jobless rate has fallen.”

Surtees said the state has not forgotten those who are without work.

“While we are certainly upbeat about the positive signs we are seeing, we cannot forget that there are still over 190,000 Alabamians without work,” he said. “The Department of Industrial Relations remains dedicated to helping those individuals find jobs and receive the unemployment compensation benefits they are entitled to.”