Alabama unemployment declines to 6.9 percent, but rate higher than year ago



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MONTGOMERY, Alabama — Alabama's unemployment rate decreased slightly in August to 6.9 percent, but remained above last year's rate for last month.

Gov. Robert Bentley announced Alabama recorded 6.9 percent in August, compared to 7.0 percent in July and 6.5 percent in August 2013.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said Alabama, West Virginia and Alaska were the only states with unemployment rates higher in August than they had a year ago.

Alabama's 6.9 percent was higher than the national average of 6.1 percent for August.

Alabama was better off than most of its neighbors. Georgia led the nation in unemployment at 8.1 percent and Mississippi was second at 7.9 percent. Tennessee measured 7.4 percent and Florida 6.3 percent.

Bentley said Alabama's August rate represented about 147,346 unemployed Alabamians. That was down about 1,300 from a month ago. Alabama's civilian labor force and employment dropped in August, which is typical for the end of summer.

"The slight decrease in the labor force reflects people going back to school and no longer looking for work," state Labor Commissioner Fitzgerald Washington said.

As is typical for August, Alabama saw gains in government and education jobs and declines in leisure in hospitality jobs, Washington said.

When looking at non-agricultural jobs, Alabama gained 8,400 jobs from July and 20,100 from a year ago. The number of construction jobs grew during the month by about 3,300 jobs to 83,400. That was the highest in almost four years.

All but two Alabama counties saw declines in unemployment in August. Bullock County rose to 13.4 percent, and Lowndes County stayed even at 12.9 percent.

Counties with the highest rates were Wilcox at 16.4 percent; and Dallas and Perry at 14.4 percent. But all three had significant declines from July.

Counties with the lowest rates were Shelby at 5.1 percent; Blount at 5.7 percent; and Cullman, Lee and Baldwin at 5.8 percent.

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