Unemployment rates down in Dallas County, Selma

Published 3:46 pm Friday, October 18, 2019

The Alabama Department of Labor (ADOL) is once again boasting a “record low unemployment rate” following the release of September numbers that showed the state’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate sitting at 3.0 percent, down from August’s previously record-breaking 3.1 percent and well below the national rate of 3.5 percent.

The new low unemployment rate marks an improvement in local numbers as well, with Selma’s unemployment rate dropping to 5.9 percent in September, an improvement over August’s 6.5 percent and more than one percentage point down from last year’s rate of 7.4 percent.

Likewise, Dallas County also saw a drop in unemployment – the most recent numbers have the county unemployment rate at 5.2 percent, down from August’s 5.5 percent and, like Selma, down more than one percentage point down from last year’s 6.6 percent.

Despite the gains, Selma continues to have the highest city unemployment rate in the state, while Dallas County represents the second-highest county rate behind Wilcox County’s 6.2 percent unemployment rate, which represents a record low for the Black Belt County.

Still, the local numbers are part of a pattern of growth that state leaders have been celebrating all year long.

“Here we are again, Alabama,” said Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey in an ADOL press release. “Once again, we’re breaking economic records: new low unemployment rate, more people working than ever before, fewer unemployed people than ever before and the largest labor force we’ve ever seen. While we continue to be proud and amazed at these wonderful numbers, we cannot become complacent and forget our commitment to Alabama – to make sure that everyone who wants a job can have one. We’re working hard to make that a reality and we will keep pushing for even more economic opportunities for hardworking Alabamians.”

Indeed, the state’s civilian labor force is larger than ever before, with 2,261,077 Alabamians working, up from August’s previous high of 2,255,088, and, in conjunction with this, there are fewer unemployed people in the state than ever before, with only 66,919 Alabamians unemployed, compared to more than 70,000 in August.

“The job growth that Alabama is experiencing in 2019 is outstanding,” said ADOL Secretary Fitzgerald Washington. “Since January, our economy has grown 55,900 jobs – more than double what economists predicted our job growth for the year would be – and we still have three months to account for. We’re outpacing the nation in over-the-year job growth as well, reaching our largest job growth percentage of the year at 2.3 percent.”

Wage and salary employment increased by 46,600 over the year, with more than 11,900 jobs added in the professional and business services sector, more than 9,400 jobs added in the leisure and hospitality sector and more than 5,400 jobs added in the education and health services sector.

“Not only are we growing jobs, earnings are also increasing,” Washington said. “In September, Alabamians’ average weekly earnings reached their second highest level in history.”

According to ADOL, total private average weekly earnings grew by $11.97 since last month to $862.70, which represents an over-the-year increase of $12.81 – the only time weekly earnings were higher was December 2018, when they reached $866.63.