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Alabama unemployment rate last month ticks up to 6.7 percent


MONTGOMERY, Alabama — The number of available workers seeking jobs in Alabama increased quicker than the available positions last month, leading to a slight rise in the state's unemployment rate, labor officials said Friday.

Alabama's unemployment rate rose to 6.7 percent, up just slightly from 6.4 percent in February and about even with March 2013, at 6.6 percent.

The job rate represented 144,628 unemployed people compared to 137,232 in February, but the number of people in the labor force also grew to nearly 2.2 million people.

"The unemployment rate increased this month because we saw the labor force grow by more than 14,000, and we saw the number of working Alabamians increase by nearly 7,000," Labor Commissioner Tom Surtees said in a statement.

Surtees said employers reported more than 12,000 additional jobs, and construction showed a gain for the first time in months. Other sectors with substantial increases in employment included the leisure and hospitality industry; trade, transportation and utilities; and government.

"This data, along with the nearly 20,000 jobs we are consistently reporting on JobLink, the state's free online jobs database, tells us that employers are hiring in Alabama," said Surtees.

Wilcox County had Alabama's highest jobless rate at 16.4 percent, followed by Perry County at 13.2 percent and Dallas County at 12.5 percent. All three counties are in rural west Alabama, where joblessness is a persistent problem.

Shelby County, located in suburban Birmingham, had the state's lowest unemployment rate, 4.8 percent. It was followed by Lee County at 5.7 percent and Cherokee and Cullman counties, which tied at 5.9 percent.

State data that tracks online job postings showed more than 48,700 job ads were placed online in March, with the most in-demand jobs including truck drivers, retail sales supervisors and registered nurses.

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