By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Friday, November 20, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) announced that Alabama’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted October unemployment rate is 5.9 percent, down from September’s rate of 6.0 percent, and below October 2014’s rate of 6.2 percent.
Gov. Bentley said in a statement, “More jobs are being created, Alabama’s unemployment rate continues to drops and our economy is growing. The wage and salary employment is at its highest level for the year. It has not been this high in almost seven years. We are one step closer to full employment, and my effort to create jobs will continue until every Alabamian who wants a job has an opportunity to have one.”
Alabama Department of Labor Commissioner Fitzgerald Washington said, “Not only are we seeing the highest wage and salary employment numbers of the year, we’ve also surpassed 2015 growth expectation by nearly 8,000 jobs. Economists forecasted wage and salary growth of 33,800, and we’ve already seen growth of 41,700 through October alone. We still have two months to go, and those are traditionally strong due to holiday hiring. The counties continue to show improvement, as well. All 67 counties experienced decreases in their unemployment rates over the month, and only one county registered an increase over the year.”
Shelby County is the county with the lowest unemployment rate at 4.0 percent, followed by Lee County at 4.5 percent, and Elmore and Cullman Counties at 4.8 percent.
Total wage and salary employment increased in October by 7,200 jobs to 1,965,000. The largest monthly gains were seen in the government sector which increased by 3,800 jobs. That was followed by the professional and business services sector which gained 2,600 paid positions, and the trade, transportation, and utilities sector which grew by 2,200.
Over the year, wage and salary employment has increased by 21,100 jobs. The largest gains were in the leisure and hospitality sector, which gained 5,200 jobs. That was followed by the education and health services sector, 4,700 jobs, and the professional and business services sector, 3,800.
October’s wage and salary employment of 1.965,000 was the highest level Alabama has seen since November 2008, when it was 1,970,900.
Nationally the unemployment rate is at 5.0 percent. The unemployment rate is the percentage of Americans who are actively working to find a job. The labor force participation rate is the percentage of the population that is either employed or unemployed (that is, either working or actively seeking work). Nationally only 62.4 percent of the population is considered in the labor force. The labor force is made up of the employed and the unemployed. People who are neither employed nor unemployed are not in the labor force. 59.3 percent of the population is employed. Nationally, the total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 271,000 in October. Job gains nationally occurred in professional and business services, health care, retail trade, food services and drinking places, and construction.
Over the past 12 months, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons were down by 0.7 percentage points and 1.1 million, respectively.
Nationally, the unemployment rates for adult men was 4.7 percent, adult women 4.5 percent, teenagers 15.9 percent, whites 4.4 percent, blacks 9.2 percent, Asians 3.5 percent, and Hispanics 6.3 percent. The unemployment rate for those workers with less than a high school diploma dropped .5 percent last month to 7.4 percent. The rate for high school graduates with no college was unchanged at 5.2 percent. For those with some college or an associate’s degree the unemployment rate was just 4.4 percent. For those with a bachelor’s degree or higher it was only 2.5 down .5 percent from a year ago. The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (i.e. persons who work part time because they can not find a full time job) edged down by 269,000 to 5.8 million in October.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that over the past 12 months, the number of persons employed part time for economic reasons has declined by 1.2 million. In October, 1.9 million persons were considered marginally attached to the labor force, down by 276,000 from a year earlier. These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They are not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the government’s survey. The average workweek remained at 34.5 hours in October. Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 9 cents in October to $25.20, following little change in September. Hourly earnings have risen by 2.5 percent over the year.
The establishment survey is conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a division of the US Department of Labor, surveys employers to measure how many jobs are in the economy.
Governor Bentley promised when elected that he would not take a salary until the State reached full employment (most economists consider full employment to be about 5.5 percent). October’s 5.9 percent edged the state closer to full employment.