State unemployment rate rises again

Alabama’s unemployment rate rose in December to hit 11 percent, just a month after the unemployment rate actually decreased in November to 10.5 percent.

Shelby County’s unemployment rate rose as well, from 7.3 percent in November to 7.6 percent in December. However, Shelby still has the lowest unemployment rate in the state.

December’s 11 percent unemployment rate represents 225,596 unemployed.

Alabama Department of Industrial Relations Director Tom Surtees said the rise in unemployment brings the state back to reality after the short November respite.

“Although we became a little hopeful due to last month’s unemployment increase, I think we all realize the reality of the economic situation in this country,” Surtees said. “We are continuing to see Alabamians suffer from the recession and remain committed to serving them.”

He said the department distributed unemployment benefits of more than $1.2 billion during 2009.

The counties with the lowest unemployment rates in December were Shelby, Madison at 7.7 percent and Coffee at 8.1 percent. The counties with the highest rates were Wilcox at 24.5 percent, Monroe at 20.2 percent and Dallas at 20.1 percent.