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Alabama outpaces national job growth in December

MONTGOMERY – Alabama experienced a job growth rate of 2.2 percent from December 2017 to December 2018, according to the Alabama Department of Labor and Alabama Career Center System. This growth, representing an increase of 44,300 jobs, is the largest over-the-year percentage growth on record.

“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,” Washington added. “This month, we saw the highest average weekly earnings in history. 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 sub-sectors also reached record highs: goods producing saw average weekly earnings of about $1,054; manufacturing measured about $1,074; financial activities measured about $1,097; and professional and business services measured nearly $1,082.

Alabama’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted unemployment December rate is 3.9 percent—down from November’s rate of 4 percent—and slightly above December 2017’s rate of 3.8 percent. Seasonal adjustment refers to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ practice of anticipating certain trends in the labor force, such as hiring during the holidays or the surge in the labor force when students graduate in the spring, and removing their effects to the civilian labor force. 

For seven consecutive months, the number of people counted as employed has reached record highs, with December’s count measuring about 2.13 million, which increased by nearly 2,300 since November, and an increase of about 49,000 compared to December 2017’s count of about 2.08 million. December’s rate represents about 86,000 unemployed persons, compared to nearly 87,800 in November and about 82,400 in December 2017.

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates are Shelby County at 2.5 percent and Cullman County at 2.9 percent. Madison, Marshall, Limestone and Elmore counties followed close behind with unemployment rates at 3 percent.  Counties with the highest unemployment rates are Wilcox County at 8.7 percent, Clarke County at 7.1 percent and Dallas County at 6.6 percent.

State of Alabama Unemployment Level and Rate | CONTRIBUTED

Major cities with the lowest unemployment rates are Homewood and Vestavia Hills at 2.3 percent; Madison, Alabaster, Hoover 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 percent.

The Current Population (CPS), or the household survey, is conducted by the Census Bureau and identifies members of the work force and measures how many people are working or looking for work. The establishment survey, which is conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a division of the U.S. Department of Labor, surveys employers to measure how many jobs are in the economy.  This is also referred to as wage and salary employment.

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