The unemployment rate in Morgan County dropped in December, with Limestone County edging up and Lawrence County remaining flat, according to data released Friday by the state Department of Labor.
The statewide unemployment rate fell from 7.5 percent in November to 7.1 percent in December, below the U.S. rate of 7.8 percent and down from the state’s December 2011 rate of 8 percent.
“We are encouraged to see our unemployment rate drop once again,” Gov. Robert Bentley said. “Over the past 12 months, we’ve seen the total number of unemployed persons drop by nearly 22,000. Still, we must remember that many people are looking for work.”
The Department of Labor reported that Alabama gained 7,600 manufacturing jobs during the last year, 4,500 professional and business services jobs, and 3,400 leisure and hospitality jobs. The state lost 5,400 government jobs and 2,100 construction jobs during the year.
December’s unemployment rate represented 152,638 people looking for work. That was down from 162,169 in November and 174,443 a year ago.
In Morgan County, the unemployment rate fell from 6.3 percent in November to 6.1 percent in December, below the year-ago rate of 7.2 percent. It had the 10th-lowest rate in the state.
Limestone County’s unemployment rate in December was 5.8 percent, up slightly from 5.7 percent in November and down from 6.5 percent in December 2011. It had the ninth-lowest rate in the state.
The December rate in Lawrence County was 7.1 percent, the same as in November and below the December 2011 rate of 8.5 percent.
In Madison County, which was tied with Blount County for the second-lowest rate in the state, unemployment dropped from 5.7 percent in November to 5.5 percent in December.
Not seasonally adjusted, and thus comparable to the county rates, Alabama’s December unemployment rate dropped from 6.7 percent in November to 6.5 percent in December.
More people are working in Alabama than a year ago, but part of the unemployment decline results from the workforce getting smaller because of people retiring, moving or giving up on looking for work. The Department of Labor reported that Alabama’s workforce measured 2.16 million in December, which was about 14,600 smaller than a year earlier. Over the same period, the number of people employed in Alabama increased by 7,200.
“While the decrease in the number of unemployed persons is certainly welcomed, along with the other positive signs we’ve been seeing recently, we will continue to work to improve the employment picture in Alabama,” Department of Labor Commissioner Tom Surtees said.
The Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Alabama is estimating the state will add 18,500 jobs in 2013, a 1 percent increase in employment.
According to a report released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Alabama was one of 22 states to see a decreased unemployment rate in December. The unemployment rate rose in 16 states and the District of Columbia.
The Associated Press contributed to this story. Eric Fleischauer can be reached at 256-340-2435 or email@example.com.
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