Alabama's unemployment rate dips to 6.8 percent for May; higher than rate a year ago


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MONTGOMERY, Alabama — Alabama's unemployment rate dipped slightly in May, but it was higher than the same month a year ago.

Gov. Robert Bentley reported Friday that Alabama measured 6.8 percent unemployment. That's down from 6.9 percent in April, but it is above the 6.4 percent recorded in May 2013.

The seasonally adjusted statistics show slightly more than 147,000 Alabamians were looking for work in May. That's down about 160 people from the previous month, but it's about 8,600 more than a year ago.

Alabama's May unemployment rate was above the national rate of 6.3 percent. A year ago, Alabama was doing better than the national figure, which was 7.5 percent.

State Labor Commissioner Tom Surtees said more Alabamians are working now than in January 2009, when the recession began to impact Alabama's unemployment rate. Bentley said initial unemployment claims are the lowest in five years.

"While we still have a long way to go before Alabama is at full employment, we are making progress," said Bentley, who is campaigning for a second term.

In May, Alabama saw job gains in leisure and hospitality and manufacturing, while declines occurred in financial activities and educational and health services.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that Alabama was one of 20 states that saw a decline in unemployment in May. Sixteen states had increases and 14 had no change.

Alabama counties with the lowest unemployment rates were Shelby at 4.4 percent, Lee at 4.8 percent, and Cullman and Baldwin counties at 5.1 percent. The counties with the highest rates were Wilcox at 15.6 percent, Dallas at 12.1 percent and Lowndes at 11.9 percent.

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