Jobless rate increases despite increased hiring - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

Jobless rate increases despite increased hiring

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Mariana Hill talks with Ashley Smallwood about her job application. Mariana Hill talks with Ashley Smallwood about her job application.
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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

Good news on the job front, even though the state's unemployment rate inched up.

While officials typically expect the rate to increase at the beginning of the year, it's still much lower than years' past.

That's because employers are hiring again.

It is possible that folks in and out of staffing agencies could soon wind-up working somewhere.

"We've seen several several people over the last few weeks get jobs through us," says Ashley Smallwood at Snelling Personnel Services.

Smallwood is constantly talking with job applicants these days, like Mariana Hill, for instance.

"I did housekeeping for 12 years. I did cashiering for a year," says Hill.

She's hopeful this visit will prove productive. According to Smallwood that's not wishful thinking.

"Right now is probably the best time to be looking for a job because people are opening up new positions, they have new fiscal budgets for this year."

That only helps decrease the state's unemployment rate. While it did go up slightly in January, the good news is the last three months "have all been below 7-percent. The last time we saw our state rate below 7-percent was in 2008," says Tara Hutchison with the Alabama Department of Labor.

She says first-time filers for unemployment are down, the number of positions available on the state's Joblink website are up and fewer companies are announcing lay-offs.

"All those things combined tend to show us that we're coming in to a better place," says Hutchison.

It's something Hill sure hopes is true for her.

"I'm keeping my faith. Hopefully everything goes well."

While many people are landing jobs, there are still nearly 149,000 people out of work.

Wilcox and Lowndes counties continue to have the highest unemployment rates at 17.4 and 14.5 percent respectively.

Officials plan to release February's unemployment numbers at the end of March.

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