Alabama’s unemployment rate has surged almost 10 percentage points over the past two months to nearly 13 percent, the Alabama Department of Labor said Friday, another sign of the economic toll caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington said Alabama’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted April unemployment rate is 12.9 percent, which is up from March’s revised level of 3.0 percent. It’s also higher than April 2019’s rate of 3.2 percent.
Last month’s rate represents 283,787 unemployed persons, an increase of 216,783 over the month.
“While we are certainly disappointed to see our unemployment rate rise so sharply this month, it’s not surprising,” said Gov. Kay Ivey. “This global pandemic and national disaster has certainly impacted Alabamians’ ability to work. We know that hundreds of thousands of people have filed for unemployment benefits over the past two months, and we’ve been able to process and pay a great majority of those. We realize there are some still waiting on relief, and we hear and understand their frustration. Please rest assured that my administration is working tirelessly to provide relief to those Alabamians and their families, and I have the utmost confidence in the Alabama Department of Labor and the dedicated state employees there who are working tirelessly to serve their fellow citizens.”
Those counted as employed decreased to 1,911,512 in April, down from March’s count of 2,151,586.
“I think everyone will agree that these numbers aren’t numbers we ever wanted to report,” said Washington. “This pandemic has negatively impacted Alabama’s economy and in two months’ time has managed to undo years of positive progress. But the impact to our employers and workers who carry the economy is even greater. So many had life-altering changes that impacted their families almost overnight. I want all Alabamians to know that we are working nonstop to help move this recovery along. We are developing new technologies, adding staff, and making modifications wherever possible to help our workers through this enormously difficult time.”
Wage and salary employment decreased in April by 201,700.
Monthly losses were seen in the leisure and hospitality sector (-79,500), the professional and business services sector (-29,500), the education and health services sector (-26,400) and the manufacturing sector (-24,200) — among others.
Over the year, wage and salary employment decreased by 199,200, with losses in the leisure and hospitality sector (-87,900), the professional and business services sector (-30,800), the education and health services sector (-25,300), and the manufacturing sector (-19,100), among others.
Average weekly wages increased to $908.52 in April, up from $883.17 in March.
Counties with the lowest unemployment rates are Geneva County at 8.1 percent, Bullock and Pike Counties at 9.1 percent, and Shelby and Henry Counties at 9.2 percent.
Counties with the highest unemployment rates are Lowndes County at 26.0 percent, Wilcox County at 22.8 percent and Greene County at 22.2 percent.
Major cities with the lowest unemployment rates are Homewood at 7.1 percent, Vestavia Hills at 7.2 percent and Madison at 8.3 percent.
Major cities with the highest unemployment rates are Selma at 23.4 percent, Anniston at 22.1 percent and Gadsden at 22.0 percent.