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State unemployment drops again in September

Brandon Moseley

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Friday, the Alabama Department of Labor announced that our state reached a new record low unemployment rate of 3.0 percent. The governor said in a statement that she is very proud of this news, but is remaining laser focused on helping all Alabamians who want a job to get a job.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) said, “Since taking office, our unemployment rate has dropped time & time again. Today, I’m overjoyed to announce we’ve done it again & set a new record low unemployment rate of 3%! Folks, that’s incredible news! Take a look at our other records.”

The state also set new records for the number of people working, the number of people in the Alabama labor force, a new record low number of people unemployed, and a new record for wage and salary employment.

75,000 more people were working in September than were working in September of 2018.
Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington announced Friday that Alabama’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted September unemployment rate is 3.0 percent which is down from August’s previous record setting rate of 3.1 percent, and below September 2018’s rate of 3.8 percent. The September rate represents 2,194,158 employed persons, a new record high, up 75,426 from September 2018. There were 66,919 unemployed persons counted in September, setting yet another record low, compared to 70,608 in August and 84,568 in September 2018.

The civilian labor force grew to 2,261,077, a new high, up from 2,255,088 in August and 2,203,300 in September 2018.

“Here we are again, Alabama! Once again, we’re breaking economic records: new low unemployment rate, more people working than ever before, fewer unemployed people than ever before, and the largest labor force we’ve ever seen,” said Governor Kay Ivey. “While we continue to be proud and amazed at these wonderful numbers, we cannot become complacent and forget our commitment to Alabama – to make sure that everyone who wants a job can have one. We’re working hard to make that a reality, and we will keep pushing for even more economic opportunities for hardworking Alabamians.”

“The job growth that Alabama is experiencing in 2019 is outstanding,” said Washington. “Since January, our economy has grown 55,900 jobs – more than double what economists predicted our job growth for the year would be – and we still have three months to account for! We’re outpacing the nation in over-the-year job growth as well, reaching our largest job growth percentage of the year at 2.3%.”

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Alabama’s economy has gained 55,900 jobs since January 2019. The University of Alabama economists who had prepared the 2019 Alabama Economic Outlook had predicted that 2019 total job growth would measure 22,200. The booming Trump-Ivey economy has surpassed that goal by two and a half times.

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Over the year, wage and salary employment increased 46,600 to a new record high of 2,093,800. The largest gains were in the professional and business services sector (+11,900), the leisure and hospitality sector (+9,400), and the education and health services sector (+5,400), among others.

This represents 2019’s highest over-the-year job growth percentage at 2.3 percent, which surpassed the national job growth percentage of 1.4 percent. This is the eighth consecutive month in which Alabama’s job growth percentage either sustained or surpassed the national job growth percentage.

Economic developer Nicole Jones told the Alabama Political Reporter, “Alabama has jobs and continues to break unemployment records because leadership in the public and private sector continues to collaborate and create an environment conducive for economic growth. The workforce development initiatives created through partnerships between businesses, the Alabama Department of Labor (ADOL), and AIDT help ensure Alabamians are trained well and can fill the jobs available in a variety of areas.”

Wage and salary employment increased in September by 10,600. Monthly gains were seen in the government sector (+8,100), the education and health services sector (+2,200), and the manufacturing sector (+1,300), among others.

“Not only are we growing jobs, earnings are also increasing,” continued Washington. “In September, Alabamians’ average weekly earnings reached their second highest level in history.”

Total private average weekly earnings increased by $11.97 over the month to $862.70, which also represents an over-the-year increase of $12.81. The only time average weekly earnings were higher was in December 2018, when they measured $866.63.

All counties and major cities experienced rate drops both over-the-month and over-the-year. Wilcox County, which is traditionally the county with the highest unemployment rate, saw its rate reach a record low in September at 6.2 percent.

“I am especially impressed with Wilcox County, which historically has had numbers in the double digits – some of the highest in our state,” Dr. Jones said. “Now, this rural Blackbelt county’s rate is around 6.2%! ADOL Secretary Fitzgerald Washington and his team deserve much credit for this because of their willingness to meet the community where it was at and work with companies to design education and training programs aimed to increase skills needed to attain employment. When Alabamians are working, we all benefit.”

The counties with the lowest unemployment rates are: Shelby County at 1.9 percent, Morgan, Marshall, Madison, and Limestone Counties at 2.1 percent, and Tuscaloosa, Lee, Elmore, Cullman, Crenshaw, and Baldwin Counties at 2.2 percent. The counties with the highest unemployment rates are: Wilcox County at 6.2 percent, Dallas County at 5.2 percent, and Clarke County at 5.1 percent.

The major cities with the lowest unemployment rates are: Northport at 1.5 pecentrcent, Vestavia Hills at 1.6 percent, and Homewood at 1.7 percent. The major cities with the highest unemployment rates are: Selma at 5.9 percent, Prichard at 4.9 percent, and Bessemer at 3.7 percent.

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