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Alabama's unemployment rate holds steady in March

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- State labor officials said Friday Alabama's unemployment rate held steady in March.

The unemployment rate last month was 7.2 percent, which is the same as March 2012, Alabama Department of Labor Commissioner Tom Surtees said. That rate represents 155,071 unemployed people, compared to 154,790 last month.

"This month we continued to see the labor force grow, which tells us that more people are re-gaining confidence in the job market. We also saw the number of people with jobs grow by nearly 7,000, with only a slight increase in the number of unemployed," Surtees said. "Even though the rate didn't decrease, these are still positive signs."

All but one of the state's 67 counties and all of the state's metropolitan areas saw their unemployment rates drop in March, Surtees said.

Eight Alabama counties saw decreases in their unemployment rates of 1.5 percentage points or greater. These counties are: Barbour, Bullock, Choctaw, Cleburne, Conecuh, Lamar, Marion, and Winston.

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates were: Shelby County at 4.7 percent, Blount County at 5.6 percent, and Lee County at 5.8 percent. Counties with the highest unemployment rates were: Wilcox County at 16.4 percent, Lowndes County at 13.4 percent, and Dallas County at 12.8 percent.