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Despite improvement, Lowndes has third highest unemployment in state

By Fred Guarino

The Lowndes Signal

Despite Alabama breaking the previous employment record for the fourth consecutive month and the Lowndes County preliminary unemployment rate for August improving a half percent over that of July’s revised rate, the county’s unemployment rate climbed from a tie for fourth highest to third highest in the state.

Lowndes went from a tie for fourth highest in unemployment  in the state with Dallas and Green counties at 8.4 percent when the preliminary July unemployment rate was released to third highest at 7.9 percent with the preliminary August rate.

The latest numbers were released by the Alabama Department of Labor on Friday, Sept. 21.

It should be noted that Dallas County’s revised July unemployment rate was actually 8.3 percent.

At 7.9 percent in August, Lowndes improved .5 percent from July’s revised rate of 8.4 percent. But the county had an even better revised unemployment rate of 7.5 percent in Aug. 2017.

Counties with the highest preliminary unemployment rates in August were: Wilcox County at 10.0 percent, Clarke County at 8.1 percent, Lowndes County at 7.9 percent, Dallas County at   7.7 percent and Perry County at 7.5 percent.

Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington announced that more than 2.1 million people were working in Alabama in August.

“For four months in a row now, we’ve been breaking employment records,” Washington said. “Thirty-two thousand more Alabamians are working now than last year.  We’ve also seen our labor force grow by 37,000, meaning more people have confidence in the economy and their ability to find a job – and the majority of those have found work, which is great news.”

Some 2,112,274 Alabamians were counted as employed in August 2018, up from 2,105,577 in July, and up 32,101 from August 2017’s count of 2,080,173.

The civilian labor force, which is composed of people who are working or looking for work, increased over the year by 36,929, up to 2,203,485, compared to August 2017’s count of 2,166,556.

“Our jobs count continues to remain well above two million.  The sectors that are experiencing the most yearly growth are sectors with traditionally high wages, like professional and business services, manufacturing and construction,” Washington said.  “In fact, professional and business services employment, which includes high paying occupations like Operations Managers, Software Developers  and more, is at a record high.”

Professional and Business Services employment currently measures 252,100, the highest level ever experienced.

Average hourly wages for selected occupations in this sector include: General and Operations Managers at $59.46/hr., Software Developers, Applications at $45.36/hr. and Database Administrators at $40.64/hr. Wages for other occupations can be found online at: www.labor.alabama.gov/lmi by using the “Alabama Wage Lookup” tool.

Over the year, wage and salary employment increased 23,300, with gains in the professional and business services sector (+9,500), the manufacturing sector (+8,200) and the construction sector (+2,300), among others.

Wage and salary employment increased in August by 9,600.  Monthly gains were seen in the government sector (+5,900), the professional and business services sector (+5,700) and the construction sector (+1,600), among others.

Alabama’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted August unemployment rate is 4.1 percent, unchanged from July’s rate, and slightly above August 2017’s rate of 4.0 percent.  August’s rate represents 91,211 unemployed persons, compared to 90,928 in July and 86,383 in August 2017.

In August, 64 of 67 counties saw their unemployment rates decrease or remain unchanged, 25 of 26 major cities and all metros saw either a decrease or no change in their rates from July to August.

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates are: Shelby County at 3.1 percent, Cullman County at 3.4 percent and Marshall County at 3.5 percent.

Major cities with the lowest unemployment rates are: Vestavia Hills at 2.8 percent, Homewood, Hoover and Alabaster at 3.0 percent and Madison at 3.2 percent.

Major cities with the highest unemployment rates are: Selma at 8.2 percent, Prichard at 7.3 percent and Bessemer at 5.5 percent.