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Selma’s July unemployment rate ticks up to 17.5 percent

According to figures released by the Alabama Department of Labor (ADOL) on Friday, Selma’s July unemployment rate was 17.5 percent, an increase over June’s rate of 15.4 percent and well above the July 2019 rate of 7.3 percent.

Selma’s most recent numbers once again land it among Alabama’s major cities facing the highest rates of unemployment, surpassed only by Prichard’s rate of 21.2 percent.

Likewise, at 14 percent for July, Dallas County was listed among counties facing the highest rates of unemployment in the state – ahead of Dallas County in the list were Wilcox County, at 19 percent, and Lowndes County, at 18.7 percent.

Like its largest city, Dallas County’s July numbers represent an increase over June’s rate of 13.1 percent and more than double the July 2019 rate of 6.4 percent.

Statewide, the unemployment rate rose by less than one percent, from 7.6 percent in June to 7.9 percent in the most recent report – a year ago, the state was celebrating a rate of only 2.8 percent – representing 176,637 unemployed Alabamians.

ADOL Secretary Fitzgerald Washington noted the paradox between loosened COVID-19 restrictions and a rise in unemployment, saying that Alabamians should expect ebbs and flows as the state continues to weather the pandemic.

“Following several months of unemployment rate decreases, this month we saw a slight increase in our unemployment rate,” Washington said. “While we can all agree that the economy is definitely recovering, we will continue to have fluctuations as we continue to learn how to navigate in this new pandemic-related reality.”

While the unemployment rate grew, there was positive movement in some sectors.

Wage and salary employment increased last month by 10,900, with monthly gains seen in the leisure and hospitality sector, which added more than 5,800 jobs, the manufacturing sector, which added more than 4,300 jobs, and the professional and business services sector, which added more than 4,200 jobs.

“Nearly 200,000 jobs were lost from March to April, when we experienced the greatest shutdowns and layoffs,” Washington said. “Since then, we’ve recovered approximately half of those jobs.”