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Alabama’s unemployment rate continues to fall, reaches another record low

Brandon Moseley

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Alabama’s unemployment rate continues to drop.

Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington said Friday that Alabama has reached a new record low unemployment rate in February 2019.

Alabama’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted February unemployment rate was 3.7 percent.

That is down from January’s rate of 3.8 percent, and it is below February 2018’s rate of 4.0 percent.

“Our unemployment rate, which is clocking in at a new record low of 3.7%, is proof that Alabama is open for business,” Washington said. “We’ve shattered employment records for nine months in a row now. People are continuing to join the labor force, with the expectation that they will get a job – and they’re getting jobs.”

The February rate represents 2,127,626 employed persons, compared to 2,123,650 last month and 2,100,195 in February 2018.

An additional 27,431 more people are working in 2019 than in 2018.

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Only 82,304 were counted as unemployed last month. This is the second lowest number ever recorded. 83,398 were unemployed in January and 87,534 a year ago.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said, “Alabama has reached a new RECORD low unemployment RATE! Having over 27,000 people working today than a year ago proves our economy is strong & what we’re doing in AL is working. I must commend our outstanding @al_labor & @MadeinAL for this exciting news.”

“More than 27,000 Alabamians are working now than a year ago, and they’re bringing home more money in their paychecks, which is great news for our economy,” Washington said.

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Wages have also risen. Total private average weekly earnings rose to $839.59 in February, representing an over-the-year increase of $33.54.

Wage and salary employment increased over the year by 34,700. The biggest gains are in the leisure and hospitality sector (+7,100), the trade, transportation, and utilities sector (+6,300), and the professional and business services sector (+5,100), among others.

Economic developer Nicole Jones said, “Alabama is open for business. Leaders in the public and private sector have collaborated well, and continue to collaborate, to create awareness about available job opportunities.”

“Since his appointment in 2014, Secretary Fitzgerald Washington and his team at the Alabama Department of Labor have analyzed trends in unemployment rates and have subsequently taken a proactive approach to address the issue,” Jones said. “Many times this meant going to the people in various counties and addressing what their needs are, discovering what their skillsets are, and bringing employers and training to them. Collectively, this has made a difference for the better.”

Wage and salary employment increased in February by 15,300.

The biggest monthly gains were in the professional and business services sector (+5,400), the government sector (+4,000), and the education and health services sector (+3,200), among others.

All but one of Alabama’s 67 counties experienced drops in their unemployment rate this month, and 64 of 67 counties saw equal or lower rates than in February 2018.

The counties with the lowest unemployment rates are Shelby County at 2.9%, Marshall, Madison, Elmore, and Cullman Counties at 3.3 percent, and Tuscaloosa and Morgan Counties at 3.4 percent. The Counties with the highest unemployment rates are Wilcox County at 9.8 percent, Clarke County at 7.6 percent and Dallas County at 7.3 percent.

The major cities with the lowest unemployment rates are Vestavia Hills, Northport, and Homewood at 2.7 percent, Alabaster at 2.8 percent, and Hoover and Madison at 2.9 percent. The major cities with the highest unemployment rates are Selma at 8.5 percent, Prichard at 6.8 percent and Mobile at 5.4 percent.

Brandon Moseley is a senior reporter with eight and a half years at Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Facebook. Brandon is a native of Moody, Alabama, a graduate of Auburn University, and a seventh generation Alabamian.

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Economy

New unemployment claims continued dropping last week

Micah Danney

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(STOCK PHOTO)

There were 8,679 new unemployment claims filed in Alabama last week, slightly fewer than the 8,848 filed the previous week, according to the Alabama Department of Labor.

Of the claims filed between Sept. 13 and Sept. 19, 4,465, or 51 percent, were related to COVID-19. That’s the same percentage as the previous week.

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Economy

Unemployment benefits could change for some Alabamians

ADOL will begin the review when the current quarter ends on Oct. 3. 

Eddie Burkhalter

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(STOCK PHOTO)

Some Alabamians receiving unemployment benefits could see changes in those benefits after the Alabama Department of Labor conducts a required quarterly review and redetermines eligibility, the department said Friday. 

The Alabama Department of Labor said in a press release Friday that no action is required by those receiving regular unemployment, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance or Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation. 

ADOL will begin the review when the current quarter ends on Oct. 3. 

“Some may remain eligible for PUA or PEUC, OR they may be required to change to regular unemployment compensation. Weekly benefit amounts may also change. This depends on eligibility requirements,” ADOL said in the release. “Those claimants whose benefit year ends prior to October 3, 2020, will have their claims reevaluated.” 

After the review, if the claimant is determined not to be eligible for regular unemployment compensation, those who qualify may still be able to be paid under PUA or PEUC, and that determination will be made automatically and payment will be issued, the department said in the release. 

Claimants must also continue to certify their weeks.

Many claimants are not receiving benefits because they fail to file their weekly certifications, i.e. requests for payment. ADOL cannot pay benefits for weeks that have not been properly certified. Certifications can be done online at labor.alabama.gov or by calling the appropriate number:

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  • Montgomery – (334) 954-4094
  • Birmingham – (205) 458-2282
  • Not in Local Area – (800) 752-7389

PUA recipients must file their weekly certifications either by telephone or on the PUA app, at pua.labor.alabama.gov.

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Economy

Alabama Gulf Coast beaches remain closed for now

Brandon Moseley

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Gov. Kay Ivey took a tour of the damage from Hurricane Sally on the gulf coast Friday September 18, 2020. (Governor's Office/Hal Yeager)

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announced that beaches will remain closed for now due to ongoing repair and cleanup efforts in the wake of Hurricane Sally.

“Working closely with Gulf Shores Mayor Robert Craft and Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon, as well as Commissioner Billy Joe Underwood, the governor has agreed to keep Baldwin County’s beaches closed until Friday, October 2nd,” the governor’s office said in a statement. “This will allow those communities additional time to get their beaches ready for public enjoyment in a safe, responsible manner.”

Mobile County beaches might open earlier than that.

“Likewise, the governor has been in touch with Mayor Jeff Collier, and she is prepared to amend the beach closure order for Mobile County when he signals that Dauphin Island is ready to reopen their beaches,” the governor’s office said in a statement. “At the present time, all Alabama beaches remain closed until further notice.”

Hurricane Sally came ashore near Gulf Shores on Sept. 16 as a category two hurricane with 105 mile per hour winds. Numerous homes, businesses and farms have been destroyed and many more have seen serious damage.

“As of Wednesday night, approx. 37,000 cubic yards of Hurricane Sally debris (equivalent to roughly 1,700 truck loads worth) has been picked up in Orange Beach since Sunday (4 days),” the city of Orange Beach announced. “Kudos to our debris contractor CrowderGulf.”

“I spent Sunday afternoon meeting with senior staff and I believe we will need some time to get our buildings safe for children to return,” said Baldwin County Schools Superintendent Eddie Taylor in a letter to parents. “We live in a very large county. Power may be on in your area and your school may not have any damage, but we cannot open schools unless all schools can open. Our pacing guides, state testing, meal and accountability requirements are based on the system, not individual schools.”

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“We have schools without power and for which we do not expect power until later this week,” Taylor said. “In this new age, we need internet and communications which are currently down so we cannot run any system tests. We have physical damage at our schools including some with standing water, collapsed ceilings and blown out windows. We have debris on our properties and debris blocking our transportation teams from picking up students. All of this must be resolved before we can successfully re-open.”

“If everything goes as planned, I expect we will welcome back students on Wednesday, September 30,” Taylor said. “Prior to returning students to school, we will hold two teacher work days to get our classrooms and our lessons plans back on track.”

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Economy

SNAP replacement benefits coming to three counties hit by Hurricane Sally

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Gov. Kay Ivey took a tour of the damage from Hurricane Sally on the gulf coast Friday September 18, 2020. (Governor's Office/Hal Yeager)

Thousands of SNAP recipients in Mobile, Baldwin and Escambia counties are set to receive automatic replacement benefits as a result of Hurricane Sally, the Alabama Department of Human Resources announced Thursday.

Recipients who received their benefits Sept. 1 through Sept. 16 will receive a replacement of 50 percent of their regular monthly benefit. Those who received supplemental pandemic maximum allotment payments will receive a replacement of 30 percent of those benefits.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service approved the replacement benefits today at the request of DHR. The benefits are intended to replace food purchased with SNAP that was lost to widespread power outages caused when Hurricane Sally made landfall on Sept. 16.

“Our priority is to remove the very real threat of hunger for the many Alabamians who are struggling from the devastation of Hurricane Sally,” said Alabama DHR Commissioner Nancy Buckner. “The first step toward that goal is to replace the food that so many Alabamians lost to the storm. We are actively working to obtain additional resources to provide much-needed relief for the region as it recovers.”

Hurricane Sally caused over 265,000 households to lose power for at least four hours in Mobile, Baldwin and Escambia counties, where approximately 54,000 households will receive SNAP benefits totaling an estimated $8.5 million.

Those recipients should expect to see the replacement benefits automatically loaded onto their EBT cards next week.

The Food Assistance Division of DHR administers the SNAP program in Alabama.

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More information about the program can be found at dhr.alabama.gov/food-assistance.

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