‘Alabama is indeed open for business’: State records first unemployment rate below 3%
Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington on Friday announced that Alabama has pulverized five economic records once again, including posting a new historic low unemployment rate of 2.8%.
The employment numbers for October are out, showing that Alabama’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was down from September’s rate of 3.0% and well below October 2018’s rate of 3.8%.
This is the first time ever that Alabama’s unemployment rate dipped below 3.0%.
“Alabama has never experienced an unemployment rate in the two percent range,” Washington said in a statement. “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!”
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. Additionally, 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.
In a statement, Governor Kay Ivey said, “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.”
“Those are tremendous numbers, and we are extremely proud of them,” she continued. “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 [Wednesday], 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!”
Wage and salary employment measured 2,101,800 in October, also a new record high, representing over-the-year job growth of 2.0%, compared to the nation’s over-the-year job of growth of 1.4%.
“For the ninth month in a row, Alabama has met or surpassed national job growth,” Washington advised. “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.”
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, another 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,” Washington added.
Total private average weekly earnings were $862.75 in October, up from $836.26 a year ago. Average weekly wages in the construction industry rose to a new record high of $1,060.01.
Counties with the lowest unemployment rates in October were: Shelby County at 1.8%; Marshall County at 2.0%; and Blount, Crenshaw, Cullman, Lee, Limestone, Madison, Morgan and Tuscaloosa Counties at 2.1%.
Counties with the highest unemployment rates were: Wilcox County at 6.3%, Greene County at 4.8% and Clarke County at 4.7%.
Major cities with the lowest unemployment rates were: Vestavia Hills at 1.5%; Alabaster, Homewood and Northport at 1.6%; and Hoover and Madison at 1.8%.
Major cities with the highest unemployment rates were: Selma at 5.2%, Prichard at 5.1% and Bessemer at 3.7%.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn