Alabama Labor Commissioner Tom Surtees is stepping down after a decade of leading major state agencies for two governors.
It's rare for someone to serve in key positions in two administrations. Surtees was hired as state revenue commissioner in 2004 by Gov. Bob Riley. Then he moved to the Department of Industrial Relations in 2007. He remained in the post when Gov. Robert Bentley took office in 2011, and he became labor commissioner when the departments of Industrial Relations and Labor were merged under Bentley.
Alabama's unemployment rate has declined for the second month to 8.1 percent.
The state Department of Industrial Relations announced Friday that October's rate is down from a revised rate of 8.2 percent in September. Alabama's unemployment rate increased for four months during the late spring and summer, hitting 8.5 percent in August before declining for the last two months.
Nearly 9,000 more Alabama residents were working in October than in the prior month.
The Alabama Department of Industrial Relations and the Alabama Department of Labor will merge Oct. 1, with the new department known as the Department of Labor.
Labor Commissioner Jim Bennett is retiring after nine years in the post, and Industrial Relations Director Tom Surtees will lead the combined department.
The Legislature approved the merger with the support of the governor, and it's supposed to save $100,000 to $200,000 per year. Surtees said that will come from eliminating rent and other operating expenses and consolidating functions.