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Despite state record, Lowndes third highest in unemployment

By Fred Guarino

The Lowndes Signal

Despite a record number of people working in Alabama in September, preliminary numbers released by the Alabama Department of Labor on Friday, Oct. 19 show Lowndes County still had the third highest unemployment rate in the state for that month.

Governor Kay Ivey announced that Alabama broke employment and job records. In September, wage and salary employment reached a record high, and the number of people counted as working was also a record high, for the fifth month in a row.

While the numbers for the state broke records in September, the picture wasn’t so rosy for Lowndes County.

Lowndes had the third highest unemployment rate in the state at 7.2 percent according to September’s preliminary numbers. And while that was down .6 percent from a revisedAugust rate of 7.8 percent, it was up .5 percent over  a revised September 2017 rate of 6.7 percent.

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.

Counties with the highest unemployment rates are Wilcox County at 9.3 percent, Clarke County at 7.3 percent, Lowndes County at 7.2 percent, Dallas at 6.9 percent, Greene and Perry at 6.4 percent.

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates are: Shelby County at 2.8 percent, Cullman County at 3.1 percent and Marshall and Elmore Counties at 3.3 percent.

Major cities with the highest unemployment rates are: Selma at 7.7 percent, Prichard at 7.2 percent and Bessemer and Anniston at 5.2 percent.

Major cities with the lowest unemployment rates are: Vestavia Hills at 2.5 percent, Homewood at 2.6 percent, and Alabaster at 2.7 percent.

Ivey said “Our economy is currently supporting the most number of jobs in history! September’s job count of 2,048,000 bypasses the previous record of 2,045,800, which was set in December 2007.”

Alabama had a year-over-year job growth of 1.3 percent, the largest percentage increase in 2018.

“In January, economists predicted that Alabama would see job growth of 27,000 in 2018.  I’m pleased to say that, year-to-date, we’ve already seen job growth of 47,000, surpassing that prediction by 20,000 jobs, and we still have three months left to grow,” Secretary of Labor Fitzgerald Washington said.

Wage and salary employment increased in September by 9,100.  Monthly gains were seen in the government sector (+6,000), the education and health services sector (+4,000), and the professional and business services sector (+2,100), among others.

Over the year, wage and salary employment increased by 26,800, with gains in the professional and business services sector (+11,500), the manufacturing sector (+8,200), and the construction sector (+2,800), among others.

Alabama’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted September unemployment rate is 4.1%.

September’s rate represents 2,117,027 people working, which is also a record high. In August, 2,112,099 people were counted as employed, and 2,082,085 were counted as employed in September 2017.

“This is the fifth month in a row that we’ve announced that more people are working in Alabama than ever before. Alabama’s businesses are hiring, Alabamians are working, and wages are rising,” Governor Ivey said.

Average weekly earnings increased over the year by $53.82. Manufacturing weekly earnings increased by $27.18 over the year, and construction weekly earnings were up $55.08 over the year.

The rate represents 90,830 unemployed persons, compared to 91,183 in August and 83,667 in September 2017.