MONTGOMERY, Alabama — Alabama's unemployment rate has dropped to 6.3 percent, but it remains above the national average.
Gov. Robert Bentley announced Friday that Alabama's rate declined from 6.6 percent in September to 6.3 percent in October. That's the same rate Alabama recorded a year ago. The October rate is higher than the national figure of 5.8 percent.
The preliminary figures represented 1.98 million Alabamians working and 133,470 looking for work. That is about 7,000 fewer unemployed than September. When non-agricultural jobs are considered, Alabama had nearly 1.95 million people working, about 33,100 more than a year ago. That 1.73 percent gain was the largest over-the-year increase since June 2006, and the total number of non-agricultural employees was the highest since December 2008.
"We have not seen this many jobs in more than five years, before the recession hit Alabama, and I am confident this trend will continue," said Bentley, who was re-elected Nov. 4.
Over the year, leisure and hospitality jobs grew by 12,100, professional and business services by 10,100, manufacturing by 7,500, and construction by 3,200. Government jobs declined by 1,100 and financial activities by 1,000.
The state Department of Labor reported Friday that unemployment compensation payments are trending downward, from $24.2 million in October 2013 to $16.3 million this October.
Alabama's October unemployment rate was higher than neighboring Florida's 6.0 percent, but Alabama fared better than its other three neighbors. Georgia measured 7.7 percent, Mississippi 7.6 percent, and Tennessee 7.1 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Alabama counties with the lowest unemployment rates are Shelby at 4.1 percent, Lee at 4.6 percent and Cullman, Cherokee and Blount tied at 4.7 percent. Counties with the highest rates are Wilcox at 12.9 percent, Bullock and Lowndes at 12.1 percent, and Dallas at 11.2 percent.
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