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Chambers’ unemployment rate rises again

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Chambers County’s unemployment rate rose for the second consecutive month according to a report released by the Alabama Department of Labor last week. For the month of February, the county’s preliminary unemployment rate was 7.6 percent. January’s revised rate was 7.1 percent. The county’s rate in December 2013 was 6.3 percent. In February 2013, the Chambers County had an 8.1 percent unemployment rate.

The February ‘14 rates represent 1,120 unemployed individuals, compared to 1,047 in January. There were 13,690 employed individuals in February compared to 13,691 in January. The difference in math resulted from an increase in the county’s civilian labor force from 14,738 in January to 14,810 in February.

For January, Chambers County ranked 45th out of Alabama’s 67 counties in unemployment. The county’s rank last month was 40th and the average ranking in 2013 was 32nd.

The county’s rate was favorable compared to surrounding counties. Randolph County posted a 7.6 percent unemployment rate for January, ranking 44th in the state; Tallapoosa County’s rate was 9.2 percent, ranking 18th in the state. Lee County, which had the second lowest rate in the state, had 5.9 percent unemployment. Clay County’s rate was 8.7 percent, Macon County posted a 9.3 percent rate and Russell County’s was 7.7 percent.

Statewide Alabama’s preliminary February unemployment rate was 6.4 percent, up from January’s rate of 6.1 percent, and below the February 2013 rate of 6.6 percent. February’s rate represents 137,256 unemployed persons, compared to 130,456 in January, and 142,855 in February 2013.

“Although we saw an uptick in the state’s unemployment rate, we also saw an increase in the number of people working, as well as the number of people in the labor force,” said Alabama Department of Labor Commissioner Tom Surtees. “These indicators, combined with an increase in the number of jobs reported by employers, tell me that more people are out in the workforce – either looking for jobs or working, and that is certainly good news.”

In February, the number of people working in Alabama increased to 1,996,720 from 1,990,938 in January (seasonally adjusted). The Civilian Labor Force, or people who are either working or actively seeking work, increased to 2,133,976 from 2,121,394 in January (seasonally adjusted).

Wage and salary employment, which is the measure of how many jobs Alabama’s economy supports and is reported by employers, increased 8,700 over the month. Gains were seen in the professional and business services sector (+3,000), the government sector (+2,700), the education and health services sector (+1,600), and the leisure and hospitality sector (+1,200), among others.

Counties with lowest unemployment rates are: Shelby County at 5.1 percent, Lee County at 5.9 percent, and Autauga County at 6.3 percent. Counties with the highest unemployment rates are: Wilcox County at 16.9 percent, Perry County at 13.3 percent, and Dallas County at 13.1 percent.

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