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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- Alabama's jobless rate dropped slightly to 3.1% last month and average wages increased, signs of what the governor's office said Friday was the state's continuing recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

The unemployment rate dipped from July's rate of 3.2%, according to a statement from the administration, and was below the average U.S. jobless rate of 5.2%. The mark was much better than the comparable measure from a year ago, when the state unemployment rate was 7.2% following business shutdowns and slowdowns caused by the pandemic.

The August rate represented about 69,000 unemployed persons in the state compared to nearly 157,000 a year ago. Average weekly earnings rose above $993, an increase from about $980 in July.

"Alabama continues our streak of dropping unemployment, getting more of our people back to work and able to provide for their families, and we are seeing our jobs count and wages consistently rise," Gov. Kay Ivey said in a statement. "Employers in Alabama have jobs to fill, and they're doing so at a good pace."

Shelby County in metro Birmingham had the state's lowest jobless rate at 2.1%, while Wilcox County in rural west Alabama was highest at 11.1%.

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