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Unemployment rate drops to 8 percent
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The unemployment rate in DeKalb County was down again for February, dropping to 8.0 percent from 8.6 percent in January.The reported labor force in the county for February was 9,510, with 8,740 of those people employed and 760 without jobs.In neighboring counties, Cannon had a 6.9 percent rate, Putnam reported a 7.7 percent rate and Smith County’s rate was at 8.5 percent.Warren County’s unemployment rate for the month was 9.6 percent, White County’s was 11.5 percent, and Wilson County’s rate was 6.8 percent. Davidson County had the lowest rate for a major metropolitan area last month, at 6.3 percent, down from 6.5 percent in January.Knox County's February rate of 6.4 percent was down from 6.5 percent in the prior month.Hamilton County was 7.7 percent, down from 8.0 percent, and Shelby County was 9.3 percent, down from 9.7 percent in January.Numbers for the state show the rate decreased in 87 counties, increased in five, and stayed the same in three.The state unemployment rate for February was at 7.8 percent, a one-tenth percentage point increase from the January revised rate of 7.7 percent.The unemployment rate nationwide for February was 7.7 percent, decreasing by two-tenths-of-one percent from the previous month.Meanwhile, the state comptroller’s office said last week that the $1.2 billion unemployment insurance program administered by the state’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development has made overpayments exceeding $73 million due to fraud and errors over the last six years.State auditors said that they found that the department’s internal controls for the program were ineffective or non-existent, resulting in overpayments of claims due to fraud or error.The department’s efforts to review fraudulent claims and claims paid in error and to collect overpayments were also strained.The department has reportedly only been able to collect 23 percent of the overpayments on average.In addition, those citizens who were actually eligible for benefits did not receive them in a timely manner.Due to increased backlogs in the department’s claims process, some benefit payments were delayed for those who needed help.Those are among the findings of the state’s Single Audit Report, which is an annual audit of state agencies and universities’ compliance with federal requirements. The new report, covering the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2012, examines more than $15.9 billion of federal funds spent by state government.In all, the report contains 48 findings with recommendations for improvement at 11 different state agencies and universities.