Alabama's unemployment rate dips to 5.7 percent, its lowest mark since July 2008


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MONTGOMERY, Alabama — Alabama's unemployment rate fell slightly in March to 5.7 percent, Gov. Robert Bentley announced Friday.

Bentley said the rate remains below the 7.2 percent seasonally adjusted rate from the same time a year ago. He said the state's jobless rate hasn't been at 5.7 percent or below since July 2008.

"We continue to see decreases in Alabama's unemployment rate, and increases in both of our employment measures, which is a testament to the strong economic development efforts we have prioritized," Bentley said in a written statement.

The governor has vowed since his 2010 campaign not to take a salary until the state returns to "full employment," which he defines as an unemployment rate of 5.2 percent.

According to Friday's announcement the largest gains in the last month came from about 3,800 jobs in the leisure and hospitality sectors, followed by about 1,800 additions in trade, transportation and utilities. The professional and services sectors grew by 1,100.

The largest growth year-over-year came from professional and business services, which added 8,400 jobs since March 2014. Leisure and hospitality gained 6,700 in the same period, while education and health services by 5,700.

Alabama Labor Commissioner Fitzgerald Washington said every county in the state had a lower unemployment rate last month than it did in March 2014.

Rural Wilcox County saw its rate fall from 18.6 percent in March 2014 to 13.6 percent in March 2015.

Counties with the lowest rates were Shelby County at 3.9 percent and Lee County at 4.7 percent. Elmore County, St. Clair County and Autauga County each had a rate of 4.9 percent.

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