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Lowndes unemployment rate more than 1.5 percent lower than a year ago, but remains third highest in state

By Fred Guarino

The Lowndes Signal

Despite the fact Lowndes unemployment in March improved .5 percent at a preliminary rate of 6.9 percent than its revised rate of 7.4 percent in February and improved a whopping 1.7 percent better than its March 2017 revised rate of 8.6 percent, Lowndes remains third highest in unemployment in the state of Alabama.

Highest unemployment counties in Alabama, according to Alabama Department of Labor figures released Friday, April 20, are Wilcox at 9.4 percent, Clarke at 7.4 percent, Lowndes at 6.9 percent, Greene at 6.5 percent and Monroe at 6.4 percent.

Alabama Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington said 66 of 67 counties saw their unemployment rates drop in March, and all counties have significantly lower rates now than they did a year ago.

Washington announced on Friday that over the year, Alabama’s wage and salary employment increased 20,100, with gains in the leisure and hospitality sector (+4,400), the professional and business services sector (+3,400), and the education and health services sector (+3,400), among others.

Wage and salary employment increased in March by 12,600, compared to February 2018.

Monthly gains were seen in the leisure and hospitality sector (+4,600), the professional and

business services sector (+2,500), the trade, transportation, and utilities sector (+1,900), and the construction sector (+1,600), among others.

In March, 2,081,906 people were counted as employed, up from February’s count of 2,080,346,

and significantly higher than March 2017’s count of 2,063,770. Alabama’s preliminary,

seasonally adjusted March 2018 unemployment rate of 3.8 percent, is up slightly from February’s rate of 3.7 percent, yet well below March 2017’s rate of 5.0 percent. March’s rate represents 81,229 unemployed persons, compared to 80,571 in February and 109,645 in March 2017.

“Alabama is benefitting from a strong economy right now, and this month’s employment numbers show that we are keeping that momentum going,” said Washington. “Alabamians are working and employers are adding jobs. Not only that, but wages are rising as well. In fact, our construction industry is recording its highest weekly wages in more than a decade.”

Average weekly earnings in the construction sector were $975.53 in March, the highest in a

decade, up $64.25 from February, and up $87.99 from March 2017. Average weekly earnings

for all private industry were $811.01 in March, up $4.96 from February, and up $28.16 from

March 2017.

“All of our major cities and metro areas saw their unemployment rates drop both over the month and over the year,” continued Washington. “We can also once again say that all of our counties have single digit unemployment rates, as Wilcox County had both the largest monthly and yearly drop to bring its rate down to 9.4%.”

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates are: Shelby County at 2.8 percent, Cullman County at 3.2 percent and Marshall County at 3.3 percent.

Major cities with the lowest unemployment rates are: Vestavia Hills at 2.4 percent, Homewood at 2.6 percent, and Alabaster, Hoover, and Northport at 2.8 percent.

Major cities with the highest unemployment rates are: Prichard at 6.9 percent, Selma at 6.4 percent, and Anniston at 5.7 percent