— From staff, wire reports
Alabama’s unemployment rate increased slightly in August, while rates in Limestone, Madison and Morgan counties experienced decreases.
The statewide rate of 8.5 percent in August was two-tenths of a percent higher than July’s rate of 8.3 percent, but below the 9.1 percent jobless rate of August 2011. The rate represents 183,315 unemployed persons, compared to 179,189 last month and 198,444 in August 2011.
“While the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased over the previous month, we saw fewer unemployment compensation claims filed during the same time period and continued to see record numbers of job openings posted on Joblink,” said Tom Surtees, director of the state Department of Industrial Relations. “Also, 63 of 67 counties saw their unemployment rates drop or remain the same this month. These are some positive signs in spite of the increase in the seasonally adjusted rate.”
There were 19,327 new unemployment compensation claims in August, compared to 25,031 in 2011, 27,683 in 2010, 31,111 in 2009, and 20,766 in 2008. The pre-recession number of claims in August 2007 was 17,346.
The state’s free online jobs database, www.joblink.alabama.gov, continued to experience record numbers of available jobs openings, reaching 14,546 in August.
Both Limestone and Morgan counties’ rate decreased from 7.6 percent in July to 7.2 percent in August. Morgan County dropped three-tenths of a percent from 8.4 to 8.1.
Limestone, Madison and Blount counties were third in the state in terms of low unemployment rate behind Shelby (5.8 percent) and Coffee (7.1 percent) counties.
Counties with the highest unemployment rates are: Wilcox County at 19.2 percent, Bullock County at 17.1 percent and Dallas County at 16.6 percent.
Nationally, the U.S. Labor Department reported that 382,000 people applied for unemployment benefits last week, more than economists had expected. When applications consistently top 375,000, it suggests hiring is too weak to lower the unemployment rate.