By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) on Friday announced in a written statement that Alabama’s preliminary May unemployment rate is down to just 6.8%. This marks a drop from April’s rate of 6.9% and is well below last year’s rate of 7.5%.
Gov. Bentley said in a written statement, “We are continuing to move in the right direction, and we are working every day to recruit more jobs to Alabama. For example, I met with leaders from dozens of aerospace companies this week at the Paris Air Show, and we discussed our efforts to grow Alabama’s aviation industry and create more jobs. We’re also moving forward with our Accelerate Alabama plan, which focuses not only on aviation, but also on several other industries that are ready for growth here in Alabama.”
Alabama Department of Labor Commissioner Tom Surtees said, “Our unemployment performance measures are at five-year lows: first time filers, the amount being paid in benefit payments, and the number of weeks compensated are all at their lowest points in years.”
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley has made recruiting and maintaining jobs in the state priorities of his administration. Just on Friday, the conservative Governor attended the groundbreaking of DAS North America in Montgomery. DAS is an important supplier for both Kia and Hyundai. The DAS project alone will bring an additional 300 jobs to the greater Montgomery area.
DAS President and CEO Kyung Ho Kang said. “This is a joyous occasion for DAS as we venture into a new beginning with the City and County of Montgomery and the State of Alabama.” DAS has additional plants in South Korea, India, Brazil, the Czech Republic, China, and North America.
Governor Bentley and Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield (R) were in Paris to recruit more aerospace jobs to the state. Following the dramatic Airbus announcement that the global jetliner titan was going to start building jumbo jets in Mobile, many Airbus suppliers have been in talks with Alabama and neighboring states about citing their own plants in close proximity to the Airbus plant.
The total number of officially unemployed persons in May dropped to just 147,788, from 150,401 last month and 161,848 in May of 2012. The number of people employed in May increased to 2,033,528, up from 2,027,313 in April.
Initial unemployment claims in May of 2013 were just 20,553. Total employment increased in May by an estimated 7,000 jobs across most employment sectors with the largest increase being in the leisure and hospitality industry which increased by over 4,200 jobs. There were also increases in: professional and business services (an estimated 1,900 jobs); other services (~1,000 jobs); construction (800 jobs); trade, transportation and utilities (800 jobs); manufacturing (400 jobs); information (300) and financial activities (300).
Commissioner Surtee said, “We are also beginning to see increases in the number of retail jobs and jobs related to tourism. We expect these numbers to increase as the summer continues and seasonal employers hire more people for the busy summer season. The manufacturing and construction industries are also gaining jobs, indicating healthy economic growth.”
The counties with the lowest unemployment rates are: Shelby County at 4.3%, followed by Blount and Lee Counties at just 5.0%. Autauga and Cullman Counties rounded out the top five at just 5.4%. 5.0% is considered by economists to be “full employment.”
The impoverished Black Belt counties continue to report the highest unemployment rates. Official unemployment in Wilcox County is reported at 14.7%, 12.6% in Perry County, and 12.5% in Dallas County, but many people in the state have given up on ever finding full time work and thus aren’t counted in official unemployment numbers.
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley has vowed not to accept any pay until the state reaches full employment.