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State reaches record low unemployment rate; Lowndes improves 1% in February

By Fred Guarino

The Lowndes Signal

Alabama reached a new record low unemployment rate in February 2019 and Lowndes County improved from having the second highest unemployment rate in the state to having the fourth highest in the state, according to Alabama Department of Labor preliminary February numbers.

Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington announced Friday, March 22 that Alabama’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted February unemployment rate is 3.7 percent, down from January’s rate of 3.8 percent, and below February 2018’s rate of 4.0 percent. 

Lowndes County’s February 2019 preliminary unemployment rate of 7.2 percent was 1 percent lower than January 2019’s revised rate of 8.2 percent and .7 percent better than February 2018’s Revised rate of 7.9 percent.

Counties with the highest preliminary February unemployment rates are: Wilcox County at 9.8 percent, Clarke County at 7.6 percent, Dallas County at 7.3 percent, Lowndes at 7.2 percent and Greene at 6.7 percent.

“Our unemployment rate, which is clocking in at a new record low of 3.7 percent, is proof that Alabama is open for business, Washington said. “We’ve shattered employment records for nine months in a row now.  People are continuing to join the labor force, with the expectation that they will get a job – and they’re getting jobs.”

February’s rate represents 2,127,626 employed persons, compared to 2,123,650 last month and 2,100,195 in February 2018, representing yearly growth of 27,431. 82,304 were counted as unemployed, the second lowest number ever recorded, compared to 83,398 in January and 87,534 in February 2018, according to the Alabama Department of Labor.

“More than 27,000 Alabamians are working now than a year ago, and they’re bringing home more money in their paychecks, which is great news for our economy,” continued Washington.

Total private average weekly earnings rose to $839.59 in February, representing an over-the-year increase of $33.54.  

Wage and salary employment increased over the year by 34,700, with gains in the leisure and hospitality sector (+7,100), the trade, transportation, and utilities sector (+6,300), and the professional and business services sector (+5,100), among others.

Wage and salary employment increased in February by 15,300, with monthly gains in the professional and business services sector (+5,400), the government sector (+4,000), and the education and health services sector (+3,200), among others.  

Sixty-six of 67 counties experienced drops in their unemployment rate this month, and 64 of 67 counties saw equal or lower rates than in February 2018.

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates are: Shelby County at 2.9 percent, Marshall, Madison, Elmore, and Cullman Counties at 3.3 percent, and Tuscaloosa and Morgan counties at 3.4 percent.

Major cities with the lowest unemployment rates are: Vestavia Hills, Northport, and Homewood at 2.7 percent, Alabaster at 2.8 percent and Hoover and Madison at 2.9 percent.  Major cities with the highest unemployment rates are: Selma at 8.5 percent, Prichard at 6.8 percent and Mobile at 5.4 percent.