State unemployment highest since 2004
Despite faring better than neighboring states, Alabama's unemployment rate reached its highest level in four years last month.
Alabama's unemployment rate rose in October to 5.6 percent, matching the highest level since February 2004, state figures released Friday show.
The state jobless rate jumped from 5.3 percent in September and is up substantially from October 2007, when it was 3.5 percent.
In a release, the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations noted the state average was considerably lower than the national rate of 6.5 percent. The U.S. jobless rate, currently at a five-year high, rose from 6.1 percent in June and 4.8 percent a year earlier.
"While the October rate does represent an increase from last month, Alabama is still one of the most fortunate states in the region because we continue recording job growth," Tom Surtees, industrial relations director, said in a statement.
"Annually, we've seen a large boost of jobs in several areas, like professional and business services, financial activities, and leisure and hospitality."
Over the month, however, the number of Alabama jobless rose 5,000 from September to 120,590 unemployed persons in October.
The monthly unemployment report, however, shows that Alabama's jobless rate is the lowest among neighboring southern states.
Alabama's unemployment rate for October is 5.6 percent, which is considerably lower than the national rate and the rate of Alabama's neighbors. The national unemployment rate stands for October at 6.5 percent.
The unemployment rate is 7 percent in Florida, Georgia and Tennessee, and 7.2 percent in Mississippi, according to information released by each state.
"Alabama is not immune to the economic challenges facing our region and our nation, but we have been weathering this economic storm better than many states," said Gov. Bob Riley.