Limestone County’s unemployment rate continues to decline to near record lows.

The latest figures released this week from the Alabama Labor Market News in Montgomery showed the county jobless rate at 3 percent, which is one of the lowest rates in the state.

The figures show Limestone County’s civilian work force in December was 35,441, which is 500 more jobs listed a year ago. There were 34,366 people with a job, compared to 333,403 at the same period a year earlier.

The figures showed also that there were 1,075 people on the unemployment line from Limestone County, down considerably from the 1,579 during the same period a year ago.

The unemployment rate in the county in December 2005 was at 4.5 percent.

The state’s seasonally adjusted employment rate, at 3.5 percent in December, decreased slightly from November’s rate of 3.6 percent but was well below the year-ago 5.3 percent, said Alabama Labor Market News analysts. They added nonagricultural wage and salary employment lost 900 over the month, with the losses occurring in government; educational and health services; professional and business services; leisure and hospitality; other services; information; and financial activities. Over the year, 17,400 jobs were gained from growth in professional and business services; manufacturing; trade, transportation and utilities; educational and health services; leisure and hospitality and construction.

State officials said the average manufacturing workweek increased 18 minutes over last month and was up 12 minutes from the year-ago average.

The goods-producing section gain 8,900 jobs over the month and gained 4,600 over the year, while the service-providing sector lost 1,800 jobs since November due to losses in government, educational and health service jobs.

The average hourly earnings in manufacturing was $15.44, and the average weekly earnings was listed at $648.

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