(January 22, 2021) MONTGOMERY – Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington announced today that Alabama’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted December unemployment rate is 3.9%, down from November’s rate of 4.4%, and above December 2019’s rate of 2.7%.  December’s rate represents 87,534 unemployed persons, compared to 100,374 in November and 61,530 in December 2019.

“This is the lowest unemployment rate Alabama has seen since the pandemic began, and I’m glad to see us close out 2020 on a good note,” said Washington. “While we are pleased to see our rate continue to drop, we know there is still a lot more work to be done. More than 26,000 Alabamians are unemployed now than at the same time last year.  We are still down more than 34,000 jobs from last year.  Our work in 2021 will be focused on continuing this recovery.”

Wage and salary employment grew in December by 6,200.  Monthly gains were seen in the trade, transportation, and utilities sector (+7,700), the leisure and hospitality sector (+3,000), and the education and health services sector (+1,100), among others.  Over the year, wage and salary employment decreased 34,200, with losses in the leisure and hospitality sector (-19,400), the education and health services sector (-16,400), and the government sector (-9,700), among others.

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates are: Cullman County at 2.1%, Shelby, Marshall, and Franklin Counties at 2.2%, and Dekalb and Cleburne Counties at 2.3%.  Counties with the highest unemployment rates are: Wilcox County at 10.6%, Lowndes County at 10.2%, and Perry County at 7.8%.

Major cities with the lowest unemployment rates are: Homewood and Vestavia Hills at 1.7%, Alabaster at 2.0%, and Madison at 2.1%.  Major cities with the highest unemployment rates are: Prichard at 11%, Selma at 9.0%, and Bessemer and Anniston at 7.0%.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Due to annual benchmarking, ADOL will not release January’s unemployment rate until March 15, 2021.


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

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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.