Unemployment down in Escambia County

Published 10:37 pm Thursday, April 26, 2012

Escambia County’s unemployment rate fell significantly from February to March, from 9.6 percent to 8.4 percent, according to figures from the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations.

That represents a change in employment of more than 300 people — from 13,120 in February to 13,426 in March. The labor force was up to 14,660 from 14,513 in February.

The state jobless rate was down slightly, from 7.5 percent to 7.3 percent in March.

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“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.”

The last time Alabama’s unemployment rate was at 7.3 percent was in December of 2008. March’s rate represents 157,378 unemployed persons, down from 161,795 last month, and significantly down from last year’s count of 203,799.

Alabama’s online jobs database, www.joblink.alabama.gov 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,” said Tom Surtees, director of the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations. “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.”

Wage and salary employment increased 12,200 over the month, with increases in the trade, transportation, and utilities industry, the leisure and hospitality industry, the manufacturing industry and the professional and business services industry, among others.