• 57°

Unemployment news mixed for Lowndes, Alabama outpaces national job growth in December

By Fred Guarino

The Lowndes Signal

After dipping below 6 percent unemployment for the first time in 2018 in November, December’s preliminary unemployment news is a mixed bag for Lowndes County.

While Lowndes County saw its November unemployment rate of 5.8 percent (preliminary/revised) rise to 6.5 percent, according to preliminary December unemployment numbers, the county actually saw its unemployment rank in the state “improve” from third to fourth highest.

According to the Alabama Department of Labor, Lowndes had a December 2018 preliminary rate of 6.5 percent, up .7 percent from a preliminary/revised November rate of 5.8 percent, but equal to its revised December 2017 rate.

But while Lowndes County tied with Dallas County at a preliminary/revised rate of 5.8 percent for the third highest unemployment rate in the state in November, Lowndes Comes in fourth highest in unemployment in December with preliminary December 2018 rates of 8.5 percent for Wilcox County, 7.1 percent for Clarke County, 6.6 percent for Dallas County ,  6.5 percent for Lowndes County and 5.8 percent for Greene County.

At the same time, Alabama experienced a job growth rate of 2.2 percent from December 2017 to December 2018, the largest over-the-year percentage growth on record.  This growth represents an increase of 44,300 jobs.

“We are ending 2018 with great economic news all around,” said Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington.  “To see this kind of record job growth is extraordinary.  Alabama employers have added nearly 45,000 jobs over the past year – economists predicted that our economy would grow by 27,000 jobs.  I’m happy to say that we more than exceeded their predictions.”

Nationally, the U.S. recorded an over-the-year job growth rate of 1.8 percent.

Alabama’s wage and salary employment again reached a record high for the fourth consecutive month, measuring 2,072,600 in December.  Over the year, wage and salary employment increased 44,300, with gains in the professional and business services sector (+12,600), the manufacturing sector (+11,300), and the government sector (+5,000), among others.

Monthly gains were seen in the manufacturing sector (+3,000), the trade, transportation, and utilities sector (+1,300), and the education and health services sector (+900), among others.

“Alabamians are earning more than ever before.  This month, we saw the highest average weekly earnings in history,” continued Washington.  “This means more money in the pockets of working Alabamians, helping them to better provide for their families and grow the economy.”

Average weekly earnings in Alabama reached their highest level ever in December, measuring $857.77. Earnings in four subsectors also reached record highs: goods producing saw average weekly earnings of $1,054.16, manufacturing measured $1,074.33, financial activities measured $1,097.26, and professional and business services measured $1,081.61.

Alabama’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted unemployment December rate is 3.9 percent, down from November’s rate of 4.0 percent, and slightly above December 2017’s rate of 3.8 percent.

For seven consecutive months, the number of people counted as employed has reached record highs, with December’s count measuring 2,130,194, an increase from November’s count of 2,127,934, and an increase of 49,018 compared to December 2017’s count of 2,081,176. December’s rate represents 86,023 unemployed persons, compared to 87,754 in November and 82,378 in December 2017.

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates are Shelby County at 2.5 percent, Cullman County at 2.9 percent and Marshall, Madison, Limestone and Elmore Counties at 3.0 percent.

Major cities with the lowest unemployment rates are Homewood and Vestavia Hills at 2.3 percent, Alabaster, Hoover, Madison and Northport at 2.5 percent and Daphne at 2.9 percent.  Major cities with the highest unemployment rates are Selma at 7.9 percent, Prichard at 6.3 percent and Bessemer at 4.8 p