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Alabama’s unemployment rate drops to 4.2 percent

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Friday, Sept. 15, 2017, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announced that Alabama’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted August unemployment rate is 4.2 percent, down from July’s rate of 4.5 percent, and well below August 2016’s rate of 5.9 percent.

“After hovering near the national unemployment rate for several months, Alabama’s rate has dropped below it for the first time in many years,” Ivey said. “This is a milestone we’ve been working toward for some time. We announced this week that Autocar, LLC. is opening a new plant in Birmingham, bringing nearly 750 new jobs. As we continue to recruit new businesses to Alabama, hopefully, we’ll be able to maintain that achievement in the months to come.”

“In August, we had the lowest number of unemployed in a decade,” Alabama Secretary of Labor Fitzgerald Washington said. “We continue to see increases in the number of jobs our economy is supporting, almost doubling economists’ projected job gains for the entire year within the first eight months.”

The comparable national unemployment rate is 4.4 percent, up slightly from July’s rate of 4.3 percent.  The last time that Alabama’s unemployment rate was below the national rate was in October 2013.

August’s rate represents 90,913 unemployed people.  That is 5,245 less than July’s 96,158 and 37,500 fewer than August 2016, when 128,413 were unemployed.

Over the year, wage and salary employment have increased by 28,300 people, with over 9,600 new jobs in the leisure and hospitality sector, over 7,600 more jobs in the professional and business services sector, and over 6,500 in the construction sector.

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Wage and salary employment increased in August by 3,100.  Monthly gains were seen in the government sector, the professional and business sector, and the education and health services sector, among others.

All counties, major cities and metropolitan statistical areas experienced drops in their unemployment rates, both over the year and over the month.

The counties with the lowest unemployment rates are: Shelby County at 3.2 percent; Cullman County at 3.6 percent; and Elmore, Madison, and Marshall Counties at 3.7 percent.

The counties with the highest unemployment rates are: Wilcox County at 11.3 percent, Clarke County at 8.6 percent and Greene County at 7.8 percent.

The major cities with the lowest unemployment rates are: Vestavia Hills at 2.8 percent, Homewood at 2.9 percent and Alabaster at 3.0 percent.  The major cities with the highest unemployment rates are: Selma at 8.3 percent, Prichard at 8.0 percent and Bessemer at 5.6 percent.

Nationally 156,000 jobs were created in August.  Unemployment peaked nationally in October 2009 and has been declining gradually since then, dropping to 4.9 percent in January 2016.

The Current Population (CPS), or the household survey, is conducted by the Census Bureau and identifies members of the workforce and measures how many people are working or looking for work.

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The establishment survey, which is conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a division of the U.S. Department of Labor, surveys employers to measure how many jobs are in the economy.  This is also referred to as wage and salary employment.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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