MONTGOMERY – Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington announced today that Alabama’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted May unemployment rate is 9.9%, down from April’s REVISED rate of 13.8%, and above May 2019’s rate of 3.0%.  May’s rate represents 221,811 unemployed persons, compared to 302,535 in April and 68,057 in May 2019.

“This month’s decrease in the unemployment rate reflects that people are returning to work following the pandemic-related shutdown,” said Governor Kay Ivey. “While we are nowhere near pre-pandemic levels, a monthly decrease of nearly four percentage points is certainly a positive. Alabama, along with the rest of the nation, will be feeling the impacts brought on by this virus for months to come.  My administration is committed to helping return Alabamians to their jobs safely, and to helping Alabama businesses to reopen and grow.”

“While we are still far short of last year’s economic markers, we did show significant improvement over the last month,” said Secretary Fitzgerald Washington. “More than 80,000 fewer people were counted as unemployed last month, while the number of employed rose by more than 128,300.”

Wage and salary employment increased in May by 42,500.  Monthly gains were seen in the leisure and hospitality sector (+23,600), the education and health services sector (+9,600), and the other services sector (+5,400), among others.  Over the year, wage and salary employment decreased 161,500, with losses in the leisure and hospitality sector (-64,600), the professional and business services sector (-27,700), and the education and health services sector (-16,700), among others.

Average weekly earnings increased to a record high in May, rising to $905.25 per week, representing an increase of $66.43 over the year.

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates are: Clay County at 5.6%, Geneva County at 6.3%, and Shelby County at 6.5%.  Counties with the highest unemployment rates are: Wilcox County at 19.3%, Lowndes County at 18.3%, and Greene County at 16.4%.

Major cities with the lowest unemployment rates are: Vestavia Hills at 5.2%, Homewood at 5.4%, and Madison at 6.2%.  Major cities with the highest unemployment rates are: Prichard at 18.6%, Selma at 17.1%, and Gadsden at 15.7%.

For more information regarding how the Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates the unemployment rate, please visit

NOTE: Data users must be cautious about trying to compare or reconcile the UI claims data with the official unemployment figures gathered through the household survey. The unemployment data derived from the household survey in no way depend upon the eligibility for or receipt of UI benefits. In some cases, UI claims data exclude people who would be identified as unemployed in the household survey, like new entrants to the labor force with no prior work experience. In other cases, UI data may include individuals who do not meet the CPS definition of unemployment. The recent Emergency Unemployment Insurance Stabilization and Access Act of 2020, signed on March 27, 2020, allowed states to temporarily modify or suspend the “actively seeking work” requirement to respond to the spread of COVID-19.


 Members of the media seeking more information should contact Communications Director Tara Hutchison.

 An Equal Opportunity Employer / Program

Auxiliary aids and services available upon request to individuals with disabilities.

Dial 711 for TTY Accessibility

 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.