Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington on Friday announced that Alabama’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted September unemployment rate was 3.0%, a new historic low. Job growth in the Yellowhammer State is far outpacing the national average, with the state’s yearly growth already doubling what experts had predicted with three months still to go.
The state’s latest unemployment rate is down from August’s previous record of 3.1% and below September 2018’s rate of 3.8%.
The new milestone rate represents 2,194,158 employed persons, also a new record high, up 75,426 from September 2018’s count. There were 66,919 unemployed persons counted last month, setting yet another record low, compared to 70,608 in August and 84,568 in September 2018.
In a statement, Governor Kay Ivey said, “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.”
“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,” she continued. “We’re working hard to make that a reality, and we will keep pushing for even more economic opportunities for hardworking Alabamians.”
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 – https://t.co/FO1vANCY2d @al_labor pic.twitter.com/YTraRJrPNY
— Governor Kay Ivey (@GovernorKayIvey) October 18, 2019
The civilian labor force grew to 2,261,077 in September, a new high, up from 2,255,088 in August and 2,203,300 in September 2018.
“The job growth that Alabama is experiencing in 2019 is outstanding,” Washington emphasized.
“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%,” he added.
Alabama’s economy has already gained 55,900 jobs since January, while economists predicted that 2019 total job growth would measure only 22,200 total.
Over the year, wage and salary employment increased 46,600 to a new record high of 2,093,800, with gains 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%, which surpassed the national job growth percentage of 1.4%.
Additionally, this is the eighth consecutive month in which Alabama’s job growth percentage either sustained or surpassed the national job growth percentage.
Total private average weekly earnings also increased by $11.97 over the month to $862.70, representing 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.
“Not only are we growing jobs, earnings are also increasing,” Washington concluded. “In September, Alabamians’ average weekly earnings reached their second highest level in history.”
All counties and major cities experienced rate drops both over-the-month and over-the-year.
In fact, Wilcox County, which is traditionally the county with the highest unemployment rate, saw its rate reach a record low in September at 6.2%.
Counties with the lowest unemployment rates last month were: Shelby County at 1.9%; Morgan, Marshall, Madison and Limestone Counties at 2.1%; and Tuscaloosa, Lee, Elmore, Cullman, Crenshaw and Baldwin Counties at 2.2%.
Counties with the highest unemployment rates were: Wilcox County at 6.2%, Dallas County at 5.2% and Clarke County at 5.1%.
Major cities with the lowest unemployment rates were: Northport at 1.5%, Vestavia Hills at 1.6% and Homewood at 1.7%.
Major cities with the highest unemployment rates were: Selma at 5.9%, Prichard at 4.9% and Bessemer at 3.7%.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn