The State of Alabama Labor Department announced Friday that the state has set a new record low of just 3.3 percent. Alabama’s over-the-year job growth is surpassing that of the national average.
Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington announced that Alabama set four new economic records in July. July’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 3.3 percent, breaking the record low set last month of just 3.5 percent.
The Trump/Ivey Alabama economy continues to boom. 2,171,721 Alabamians were employed last month, also setting a new all-time record high. 11,244 more Alabamians had jobs in July than in June, and 57,413 more were employed last month than in July 2018.
“More than 57,000 Alabamians have jobs today that didn’t a year ago,” said Governor Kay Ivey. “That means that 57,000 more Alabamians have work and are contributing to their communities and our state. The effort we are making to bring jobs and employers to Alabama is working. We are consistently improving our workforce and preparing Alabama for the future.”
“I’m proud to see our unemployment rate decrease and continue to reach record lows,” Washington said. “This month we also saw the number of people counted as unemployed fall to its lowest count ever. More people are joining the workforce, with the expectation that they will find work, and, for the most part, they are. But even as we celebrate these records, we know that there is still work to be done. We’re proving month after month that Alabama has good, quality jobs. We stand ready to assist anyone who’s ready to work.”
The number of people counted as unemployed dropped to a new record low of just 75,157, which is down 12,761 people from July 2018.
The state’s civilian labor force increased over the year by 44,652 to a new record high of 2,246,878. The civilian labor force represents the number of people, aged 16 and over, who are either working or looking for work, excluding the military and those in institutions.
“Alabama is open for business,” economic developer Nicole Jones told the Alabama Political Reporter. “We have jobs and continue to shatter unemployment records because leadership in the public and private sector continues to collaborate and create an environment conducive for economic growth. Sixty-four of sixty-seven counties saw either a decline or no increase in their over-the-month unemployment rates.”
“Our over-the-year job growth measured 2.0 perfect this month, which outpaced the nation’s job growth by half of a percentage point,” Washington said. “In fact, Alabama has matched or outpaced the national growth rate for six out of seven months in 2019. Alabama’s economy added over 40,000 more jobs in the last 12 months, with at least four sectors reaching record level employment highs.”
Alabama’s over-the-year job growth measured 2.0 percent, compared to the national growth rate of 1.5 percent. The state is outperforming the nation by 33 percent. The only month in 2019 in which Alabama did not match or outpace the national growth was January, when Alabama’s growth rate measured 1.8 percent, and the national rate was 2.0 percent.
The state’s over the year, wage and salary employment increased 40,200. The biggest gains were in the professional and business services sector, which gained over 8,700 new workers. That was followed by the leisure and hospitality sector (+7,700), and the education and health services sector (+5,000), among others.
The state’s transportation equipment manufacturing sector set a new record high level of employment in the state at 66,600 workers. The motor vehicle manufacturing (14,100), leisure and hospitality (219,200), and computer systems design (26,300) also set new all-time record highs.
“Secretary Fitzgerald Washington and the Alabama Department of Labor work diligently with companies and educational institutions to ensure Alabama has a quality and skilled workforce. ADOL, AIDT and companies looking to hire promote available job opportunities and facilitate training for future employees with skills needed to attain specific career paths,” Jones said.
All 67 counties saw declines in their over-the-year unemployment rates; with drops ranging from more than half of a percentage point to more than three percentage points. Sixty-four of 67 counties saw no increase or a decline in their over-the-month unemployment rates, as well.
The counties with the lowest unemployment rates are: Shelby County at just 2.1 percent. That is followed by Marshall County at 2.4 percent, and Elmore and Baldwin Counties at 2.5 percent. The counties with the highest unemployment rates are: Wilcox County at 7.5 percent, Greene County at 7.0 percent, and Perry County at 6.7 percent.
The major cities with the lowest unemployment rates are: Vestavia Hills at 1.7 percent, Homewood and Alabaster at 2.0 percent, and Hoover at 2.1 percent. The major cities that had the highest unemployment rates are: Selma at 7.3 percent, Prichard at 6.2 percent, and Anniston at 4.6 percent.
New unemployment claims continued dropping last week
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.
Unemployment benefits could change for some Alabamians
ADOL will begin the review when the current quarter ends on Oct. 3.
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:
- 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.
Alabama Gulf Coast beaches remain closed for now
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.”
“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.”
SNAP replacement benefits coming to three counties hit by Hurricane Sally
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.
More information about the program can be found at dhr.alabama.gov/food-assistance.