Jobless rate hits record low in state

Published 8:37 pm Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Alabama recorded a record low unemployment rate of 3.5 percent in November.

That’s down from October’s previous record-setting rate of 3.6 percent and well below November 2016’s rate of 6.2 percent.

The Dallas County rate held steady at 5.8 percent, which accounts for 860 individuals looking for work.

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Statewide, November’s rate represents 75,807 unemployed persons, also a new record low, compared to 77,231 in October and 136,135 in November 2016.

“It was just last month when we reached the extraordinary milestone of breaking all previous unemployment rate records, but now just a month later the trend continues, and we have once again broken those records,” Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said in a release.  “This continued historic decline in our unemployment rate, coupled with the fact that Alabama’s businesses are employing more Alabamians than ever before, shows that we are truly moving forward and proving to everyone that Alabama is a great place to live and do business.”

Over the year, wage and salary employment increased by 30,500, increasing to 2,029,800, the highest number ever recorded, with gains in the construction sector (+6,600), the manufacturing sector (+5,600), and the leisure and hospitality sector (+5,200), among others.

“Our construction employment, currently measuring 91,500, is at one of its highest levels in more than eight years,” said Fitzgerald Washington, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Labor.  “Construction employment is an indicator of economic stability, and we have seen a steady increase in construction employment for most of this year.  Additionally, our manufacturing employment is at its highest level in nearly nine years, nearing 2008 levels, which are pre-recessionary in Alabama.”

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates are: Shelby County at 2.6 percent, Marshall, and Cullman Counties at 3.0 percent, and Madison, Lee, and Elmore Counties at 3.1 percent.

“All 67 counties experienced significant drops in their unemployment rates over the year,” continued Washington.  “Wilcox County, which traditionally has the highest unemployment rate in the state, has seen its rate drop by 5.7 percentage points since last year.  2017 marks the first time in a decade that all counties’ unemployment rates have been in the single digits.”

Counties with the highest rates are: Wilcox County at 9.3 percent, Clarke County at 6.7 percent, and Lowndes County at 6.4 percent.

Cities with the lowest unemployment rates are: Vestavia Hills at 2.4 percent, Homewood at 2.5 percent, and Alabaster and Hoover at 2.6 percent.   Cities with the highest unemployment rates are: Selma at 6.6 percent, Prichard at 6.5 percent, and Anniston and Bessemer at 4.9 percent.