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County’s unemployment rate down slightly

Chilton County’s unemployment rate dropped from 11.6 percent in January to 11.3 percent in February, while statewide unemployment statistics remained unchanged at 11.1 percent.

The county rate represents 2,061 individuals without a job, while Alabama’s rate translates to 227,717 persons.

A year ago, Chilton County’s unemployment rate was recorded at 9.1 percent.

“We are starting to see some consistent signs that our economy has begun a rebound,” said Tom Surtees, Alabama Department of Industrial Relations director. “Our state showed employment gains for the first time in three months. In addition, new unemployment benefit claims have fallen 61 percent since the third week of January,” said Surtees.

Surtees added that wage and salary employment in the state increased by 11,300 over the month with the majority of the monthly upturn resulting from employment gains in professional and business services, government, leisure and hospitality, manufacturing, and educational and health services.

The number of people filing new claims in February 2010 is estimated to be 25,000.

Comparatively, new claims for February 2009 were 41,000, while new claims in February 2008 were 20,000.

“We’re seeing nearly half the amount of people signing up for unemployment assistance this year than we were a year ago,” said Surtees. “We are hopeful that this is a positive sign, pointing toward some relief from this recession.”

The counties with the lowest unemployment rates were: Madison at 8.3 percent, Shelby at 8.5 percent and Coffee at 8.5 percent. The counties with the highest unemployment rates were Wilcox at 27.0 percent, Monroe at 21.4 percent and Conecuh at 20.3 percent.