April 17, 2020

MONTGOMERY – Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington announced today that Alabama’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted March unemployment rate is 3.5%, up from February’s record low level of 2.7%, and above March 2019’s rate of 3.3%.  March’s rate represents 2,138,541 employed persons, down 24,216 over the year.

Wage and salary employment decreased in March by 1,600.  Monthly losses were seen in the education and health services sector (-4,300), the professional and business services sector

(-2,100), and the leisure and hospitality sector (-900), among others.

Over the year, wage and salary employment increased by 12,600, with gains in the government sector (+8,800), the manufacturing sector (+3,900), the education and health services sector (+2,400), and the trade, transportation, and utilities sector (+2,300), among others.

Average weekly wages increased to $886.03 in March, down from $882.46 in February, and increased from $843.80 in March 2019.

The following sectors saw record high wages in March 2020:

  • Trade, transportation, and utilities      $741.22
  • Other Services                                       $787.80

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates are: Shelby County at 2.5%, Morgan, Marshall, and Madison Counties at 2.8%, and Tuscaloosa, St. Clair, Limestone, and Cullman Counties at 2.9%.  Counties with the highest unemployment rates are: Wilcox County at 9.6%, Clarke County at 6.7%, and Greene County at 6.2%.

Major cities with the lowest unemployment rates are: Vestavia Hills at 2.0%, Homewood at 2.2%, and Northport and Hoover at 2.3%.  Major cities with the highest unemployment rates are: Selma at 6.8%, Prichard at 6.2%, and Gadsden at 5.3%.

*NOTE: The impact of COVID-19 will not be fully evident in the March report. This is due to the fact that the majority of closings and layoffs occurred during the week of March 16th.  The unemployment rate is measured during the week of March 12th.  April’s unemployment rate, scheduled to be published on May 22, will more accurately reflect the impact of COVID-19 on Alabama’s economy.


Members of the media seeking more information should contact Communications Director Tara Hutchison at (334) 242-8616.

“Seasonal adjustment” refers to BLS’s 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.

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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