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.
“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.”
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.
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.