— From staff, wire reports
Limestone County’s September unemployment rate was one of the lowest in the state, according to data released Friday by the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations.
Limestone, Madison and Lee counties are all tied for third-lowest rate at 6.4 percent. Only Shelby (5.2 percent) and Coffee (6.2 percent) counties have better jobless rates.
Limestone’s unemployment rate was down sharply from 7.2 percent in August. Madison County experienced the same drop-off. Morgan County’s rate dipped from 8.1 percent in August to 7 percent in September.
Alabama’s overall jobless rate fell two-tenths of a percent to 8.3 last month, compared to 8.5 percent in August. The September 2011 rate was 8.8 percent.
Alabama’s unemployment rate had been rising since measuring 7.2 percent in April, but September’s figure reversed that trend. Alabama’s rate remains above the national figure of 7.8 percent for September.
Seasonally adjusted figures released by the state Labor Department show 13,000 fewer Alabamians were working this September than a year ago, but this September’s unemployment rate was lower because the state’s labor force shrunk by about 28,000 people from the last year. Ahmad Ijaz, an economic researcher at the University of Alabama, said that’s a trend in many states.
In September, there were 1.98 million Alabamians working and 177,848 looking for work. Alabama added about 2,000 jobs from August, with growth coming in manufacturing, business services and health services. Leisure and hospitality jobs declined with the end of the summer tourism season, but were still better than a year ago.
Labor Commissioner Tom Surtes said the September rate is consistent with unemployment claims going down in the last few months, fewer industries making announcements about mass layoffs or closures, and a record number of jobs becoming available on the state’s online jobs database.
So far this year, Alabama has received notifications of 3,977 layoffs by industries employing 100 or more people. That compares to 14,184 in 2009, when Alabama was at the height of the recession.
“The state’s economy is growing. It just doesn’t feel like it because it’s not growing as fast as we would like to see,” Ijaz said.
Alabama was one of 41 states that saw unemployment decline in September, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics announced Friday. Alabama’s rate of 8.3 percent tied Tennessee, but was lower than the 8.7 percent in Florida, 9.0 percent in Georgia and 9.2 percent in Mississippi.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.