Alabama's unemployment rate dropped in December to 7.1, a half point lower than 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.
Counties with the lowest unemployment rates in December were Shelby at 4.6 percent, Madison and Blount at 5.5 percent, and Coffee, Cullman, Lee and St. Clair at 5.7 percent.
Counties with the highest rates were Wilcox at 15.1 percent, Bullock at 13.1 percent, and Perry, Greene and Dallas at 12 percent.