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State unemployment rate drops to new low

Brandon Moseley

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Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington announced last week that Alabama reached a new record low unemployment rate in October.

Alabama’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted October unemployment rate is just 2.8 percent, down from September’s rate of 3.0 percent, and well below October 2018’s rate of 3.8 percent.

“More than 80,000 Alabamians are working today than last year, and 20,000 fewer people are counted as unemployed. Our economy is supporting over 2.1 million jobs, more than ever before,” said Governor Kay Ivey. “Those are tremendous numbers, and we are extremely proud of them. We continue to show the rest of the country that Alabama is indeed open for business! Employers have confidence in our economy and jobseekers who are joining the workforce are finding employment. Just yesterday, we celebrated Hyundai Motor Manufacturing of Alabama’s expansion which will add 200 new employees. This adds to the steady announcements we are making every month, and we will continue working hard to bring those jobs home, so that every Alabamian who wants a job, will have one!”

“Alabama has never experienced an unemployment rate in the two percent range,” said Secretary Washington. “While we have been breaking unemployment records all year, I have to say that this is one metric we really weren’t sure we’d ever surpass, but we have!”

Economic developer Dr. Nicole Jones told the Alabama Political Reporter, “Our state is open for business. Alabamians work hard and want to work, and when folks are employed, everyone’s quality of life benefits.”

October’s rate represents 2,200,681 employed persons, a new record high, compared to 2,194,109 in September and 2,120,546 in October 2018. This amounts to an over-the-year increase of 80,135. A new record low of 63,333 unemployed persons were counted, compared to 66,883 in September and 83,400 in October 2018, amounting to an over-the-year decrease of 20,067.

The number of people in the civilian labor force increased to 2,264,014, also a new record high, representing an over-the-year increase of 60,068.

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“For the ninth month in a row, Alabama has met or surpassed national job growth,” continued Secretary Washington. “In October, manufacturing employment is at its highest level in more than a decade and record high employment was recorded in the professional and business services sector.”

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Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose) said, “Alabama is open for business! Awesome news for our state setting a record low unemployment rate.”

Wage and salary employment in the Ivey-Trump economy has soared to 2,101,800 in October, a new record high, representing over-the-year job growth of 2.0 percent, compared to the nation’s over-the-year job of growth of 1.4 percent. Over the year, wage and salary employment increased 41,900, with gains in the professional and business services sector (+13,300), the leisure and hospitality sector (+9,100), and the government sector (+4,000), among others.

Wage and salary employment increased in October by 7,900. Monthly gains were seen in the trade, transportation, and utilities sector (+3,100), the professional and business services sector (+3,000), and the government sector (+2,600), among others.

Manufacturing employment measured 271,600, which is its highest level since November 2008, when it measured 273,600. Professional and business services employment measured 259,700, a record high.

“Additionally, wages continue to show improvement, with total private average weekly earnings rising by $26.49 over the year, and construction wages reached a new record high,” said Secretary Washington.

“Secretary Fitzgerald Washington and the Alabama Department of Labor continue to work diligently with businesses and educational institutions to ensure Alabama has a quality and skilled workforce,” Dr. Nicole Jones added. “Governor Ivey, ADOL, AIDT, and most importantly, the companies that create the jobs, communicate effectively to promote opportunities and facilitate training of the skills needed to attain specific career paths.”

Wages are also rising. The total private average weekly earnings were $862.75 in October, up from $836.26 a year ago, a 3.2 percent across the board increase. Average weekly wages in the construction industry have soared to a new record high of $1,060.01 a week.

The counties with the lowest unemployment rates are: Shelby County at 1.8 percent, Marshall County at 2.0 percent, and Blount, Crenshaw, Cullman, Lee, Limestone, Madison, Morgan, and Tuscaloosa Counties at 2.1 percent. The counties with the highest unemployment rates are: Wilcox County at 6.3 percent, Greene County at 4.8 percent, and Clarke County at 4.7 percent.

The major cities with the lowest unemployment rates are: Vestavia Hills at 1.5 percent, Alabaster, Homewood, and Northport at 1.6 percent, and Hoover and Madison at 1.8 percent. The major cities with the highest unemployment rates are: Selma at 5.2 percent, Prichard at 5.1 percent, and Bessemer at 3.7 percent.

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