Alabama had the second lowest unemployment rate in the Southeast in July.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that Virginia's rate of 5.7 percent was lower than Alabama's rate of 6.3 percent. The bureau also reports that Alabama had one of the nation's biggest drops in unemployment from a year ago, when Alabama's rate measured 7.6 percent. Only seven states exceeded Alabama's drop of 1.3 percentage points over the last year.
Last year new and expanding industries announced plans to create more than 20,000 jobs with investments topping $5.4 billion in Alabama.
But those numbers did not include a single new job or investment in almost a dozen of Alabama's 67 counties.
Three-quarters of that investment and two-thirds of the jobs are slated for the state's 15 urban counties, defined as those with cities that have populations of 25,000 people or more, al.com reported. The rest of the new jobs was split among 41 rural counties and the 11 that ended up empty-handed are also all considered rural.
Alabama's unemployment rate rose to 7.2 percent in February.
The rate announced by the state Department of Labor is up from 6.9 percent in January and is equal to the rate a year ago. The number of unemployed people looking for work grew by more than 6,000 from January.
The long-term unemployed in Alabama will be among the first to feel automatic federal budget cuts scheduled to take effect Friday.
A spokeswoman for the Alabama Department of Labor says federal officials have advised the department to prepare for a cut of 9 percent to 10 percent in unemployment benefits for Alabamians who have exhausted their 26 weeks of state unemployment benefits and are now getting the extended 37 weeks of federal benefits.
Gov. Robert Bentley said Friday that December's rate of 7.1 percent is down from 7.5 percent in November. It's the fourth month for a decline since measuring 8.5 percent in August. The December rate is also better than the 8 percent measured a year ago.
The state Department of Labor reports that Alabama gained 7,600 manufacturing jobs during the last year, and professional and business services jobs grew by 4,500.