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Despite record lows, Selma still battling unemployment

The Alabama Department of Labor is once again touting record low unemployment figures, with the state’s October rate at an all-time low of 2.8 percent, which represents a small gain over September’s 3.0 percent and a significant improvement over last year’s 3.8 percent.

Despite the record-setting numbers, Selma’s October unemployment rate of 5.2 percent gives it the highest unemployment rate in the state.

However, Selma’s latest numbers represent an improvement over September’s rate of 6.0 percent and a sharp decrease over last year’s rate of 6.9 percent.

Dallas County’s October unemployment rate of 4.4 percent keeps it off of the list of counties with the highest rates in the state and marks an improvement over September’s rate of 5.2 percent and a significant improvement over last year’s rate of 6.1 percent.

“Alabama has never experienced an unemployment rate in the two percent range,” said ADOL Secretary Fitzgerald Washington in a press release.  “While we have been breaking unemployment records all year, I have to say that this is one metric we really weren’t sure we’d ever surpass, but we have.”

The latest numbers indicate that more than 2.2 million Alabamians are currently working, an over-the-year increase of more than 80,000, and that 63,333 Alabamians are currently unemployed, a decrease of more 20,000 over the last year.

“More than 80,000 Alabamians are working today than last year and 20,000 fewer people are counted as unemployed,” said Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey in the release. “Our economy is supporting over 2.1 million jobs, more than ever before. Those are tremendous numbers and we are extremely proud of them.  We continue to show the rest of the country that Alabama is indeed open for business. Employers have confidence in our economy and jobseekers who are joining the workforce are finding employment.”

Ivey added that her office would “continue working hard” to ensure that “every Alabamian that wants a job will have one.”

For the ninth month in a row, Alabama surpassed the nation in job growth – the state’s October numbers represent over-the-year job growth of 2.0 percent compared to the national average of 1.4 percent.

Further, manufacturing employment reached its highest level since 2008, with 271,600 workers in the industry, while professional and business services employment reached an all-time high of 259,700 workers.

Additionally, private average weekly earnings for October were at $862.75, a more than $26 improvement over last year’s numbers, while average weekly earnings in the construction sector reached a record high of just over $1,060.

Among the Alabama counties with the lowest unemployment rates in the state are Shelby County, at 1.8 percent, and Marshall County at 2.0 percent, while the cities with the lowest unemployment rates include Vestavia Hills, at 1.5 percent, and Alabaster, Homewood and Northport, at 1.6 percent.

Counties with the highest unemployment rates for October include Wilcox County, at 6.3 percent, and Greene County, at 4.8 percent.

Listed along with Selma as the cities with the highest unemployment rates in the state for October are Pritchard, at 5.1 percent, and Bessemer, at 3.7 percent.