State unemployment rate continues to drop

Alabama’s unemployment rate continued to fall in May, dropping to 10.8 percent from April’s rate of 11 percent, according to the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations.

Shelby County again had the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 7.3 percent, followed closely by Madison at 7.5 percent and Coffee at 7.6 percent.

Since the beginning of the year, wage and salary employment in the state has increased by 44,400.

Alabama Department of Industrial Relations Director Tom Surtees said while he’s seen positive signs in the economy, he is unsure about the effect of the massive Gulf Coast oil spill.

“Our unemployment rate has shown a decline and that’s obviously good news,” Surtees said. “We continue to hope that the positive signs we are seeing in the state’s economy, such as adding to the wage and salary employment numbers and the drop in first time payments to unemployment compensation beneficiaries, are indicative of a positive trend.

“Unfortunately, we are unsure at this time how much of an impact the Gulf Oil Spill will have on our unemployment rate,” Surtees added.

The counties with the highest unemployment rates are Wilcox at 24 percent, Monroe at 18.5 percent and Dallas at 17.9 percent.