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Alabama maintains record low employment rate

MONTGOMERY – Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington announced Friday that Alabama has maintained its record low unemployment rate, ending 2019 with a preliminary, seasonally adjusted December unemployment rate of 2.7%, unchanged from November 2019, and well below December 2018’s rate of 3.8%.

“I’m so proud to be able to close out this decade with record-breaking economic measures,” said Governor Kay Ivey. “All year long, we’ve had good news to share, and to be able to end the year, and the decade, on such a positive note is wonderful.  Earlier this year, Alabama had never reported an unemployment rate lower than 3.0%, and now we’ve had one for the last three months. Nearly 84,000 more people have jobs now than last year. I’m excited about the path that Alabama is on, and the positive impacts this news has on our people.”

December’s rate represents 2,204,740 employed people, a new record high, representing an increase of 83,971 from December 2018. A total of 61,458 people were counted as unemployed, also a new record, a drop of 22,051 from last year. The civilian labor force grew by 61,920 over the year, to a new record high of 2,266,198.

“For the eleventh month in a row, our job growth has met or surpassed the nation’s,” Washington said.  “We’ve gained over 46,000 jobs since last December, and we continue to see employers posting job ads.”

Wage and salary employment grew over the year by 46,300. Yearly gains were seen in the professional and business services sector (+15,000), the leisure and hospitality sector (+7,800), and the government sector (+6,100), among others. Over the month, gains were seen in the trade, transportation, and utilities sector (+4,000), the construction sector (+700), and the professional and business services sector (+200).

Alabama’s job growth rate for December is 2.2%. It surpasses the national job growth rate of 1.4%. This marks the eleventh month that Alabama’s job growth rate has matched or exceeded the national rate.

“Average weekly wages showed significant growth this month, registering at an all-time high,” Washington said. “Additionally, we saw many sectors and subsectors reach all-time wage highs, including manufacturing, with a monthly wage increase of $25.57, and financial activities, with a monthly wage increase of $50.78.”

Total private average weekly wages measured $875.44 in December, representing a monthly increase of $15.14, and a yearly increase of $8.81.

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates are: Shelby County at 1.8%, Marshall, Madison, and Cullman Counties at 2.1%, and Tuscaloosa, St. Clair, Morgan, Limestone, Lee, and Elmore Counties at 2.2%.  Counties with the highest unemployment rates are: Wilcox County at 6.8%, Clarke County at 5.5%, and Greene and Lowndes Counties at 4.8%.

Major cities with the lowest unemployment rates are: Vestavia Hills at 1.4%, Homewood at 1.6%, and Hoover and Northport at 1.7%.  Major cities with the highest unemployment rates are: Prichard at 5.0%, Selma at 4.9%, and Bessemer at 3.7%.