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Lowndes unemployment improves to fifth highest in state

By Fred Guarino

The Lowndes Signal

Lowndes County’s May preliminary unemployment rate marks an improvement for the county going from a tie for second worst in unemployment in the state with Clarke County in April to fifth highest.

While the county’s May 6.6 percent preliminary unemployment rate was .1 percent worse than a revised April rate of 6.5 percent, according to numbers released Friday, June 15th by the Alabama Department of Labor, it was .4 percent better than a revised May 2017 rate of 7.0 percent. And the county “improved” to fifth highest in unemployment with Wilcox County highest at 8.9 percent, Greene County second at 7.2 percent, Clarke County third 6.9 percent, Perry County fourth 6.8 percent and Lowndes County fifth 6.6 percent.

Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington announced Friday that Alabama’s wage and salary employment measured 2,042,400 in May, a ten-year high. The last time it measured at or above this level was in December 2007, when it measured 2,045,800.

“Wage and salary employment in Alabama continues to increase significantly month after month,” Washington said. “This month’s count is the second largest we’ve ever recorded, yielding only to pre-recessionary numbers. It represents the most jobs our economy has supported in more than a decade. Employers are hiring in Alabama, jobs are available in Alabama, and people are working in Alabama.”

Over the year, wage and salary employment increased 21,600, with gains in the manufacturing sector (+4,600), the leisure and hospitality sector (+4,400), and the professional and business services sector (+4,000), among others.

Wage and salary employment increased in May by 7,000. Monthly gains were seen in the leisure and hospitality sector (+2,300), the manufacturing sector (+1,800), and the education and health services sector (+1,300), among others.

“We know that our economy is supporting record numbers of jobs, and we also know that Alabamians are working in record numbers – the most in more than 11 years,” continued Washington. “Twenty-one thousand more people are working now than they were last year. That means more Alabamians are supporting their families, and spending money in their communities.”

Alabama’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted May unemployment rate is 3.9 percent, an increase from April’s rate of 3.8 percent, and well below May 2017’s rate of 4.6 percent. In May, 2,091,439 people were

counted as employed, up 5,081 from April, and up 21,277 from May 2017. May’s rate represents 85,634 unemployed persons, compared to 83,151 in April and 98,713 in May 2017.

The last time employment measured 2,091,439 or more was in April 2007, when it measured 2,091,857.

“It is not uncommon to see a slight increase in the unemployment rate in May,” said Washington. “As graduates and students enter the workforce, some for the first time, they may not find jobs immediately, and it can contribute to a rate increase.”

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates are: Shelby County at 2.7 percent, Cullman County at 3.1 percent, and Marshall, Elmore and Baldwin Counties at 3.2 percent.

Major cities with the lowest unemployment rates are: Vestavia Hills at 2.4 percent, Homewood at 2.5 percent and Alabaster at 2.6 percent. Major cities with the highest unemployment rates are: Selma at 6.2 percent, Prichard at 6.1 percent and Anniston at 5.5 percent.