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Unemployment numbers change for better

The number of Chilton County residents without a job went down in July, bucking a recent trend of rising unemployment.

Chilton County’s unemployment rate for last month was 9.8 percent, down from 10 percent in June.

The county was one of several in the state to get good news. Chilton County currently has the 16th lowest unemployment rate of Alabama’s 67 counties.

The state as a whole wasn’t as fortunate. Alabama’s unemployment rate rose to 10.2 percent, up from 10.1 percent in June.

However, Tom Surtees, director of the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations, said the numbers have steadied from earlier this year.

“Although we still experienced an increase in our employment rate, it’s not nearly as large a gain as we have been seeing this year, on a month-to-month basis,” said Surtees. “The important thing for unemployed Alabamians is to remember is that there is help available for them.”

Some 215,377 Alabamians are out of work, while 12,900 non-agricultural jobs were lost in July. Most of the losses occurred from seasonal losses of school employees, according to DIR. Other losses occurred in the financial, construction, information, and education and health services sectors.

Neighboring Shelby County, at 7.6 percent, continues to enjoy the state’s lowest unemployment rate.

Counties with the highest unemployment include Wilcox County, 24.9 percent, and fellow-neighbor Dallas County, 21.1 percent.

Last week, the Alabama Legislature passed a law to add up to an additional 20 weeks of emergency benefits for the state’s unemployed.

These federally funded benefits are available to anyone who has exhausted all 59 weeks of their benefits on or after March 29, 2009.

Claimants who are eligible for additional benefits will be notified in writing by DIR by Aug. 28 and given instructions on how to file for the benefits.

Anyone with questions about the emergency benefits should call 1-877-490-1642.