(June 18, 2021)

MONTGOMERY – Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington announced today that Alabama’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted May unemployment rate is 3.4%, down from April’s rate of 3.6%, and well below May 2020’s rate of 7.9%.  May’s rate represents 75,458 unemployed persons, compared to 79,319 in April and 174,680 in May 2020. May’s unemployed count is the lowest in 2021.

“Our record-breaking streak is continuing in May, and we hope that it continues throughout the rest of the year,” said Governor Kay Ivey. “Yet again, we’ve dropped our unemployment rate and each month we are getting closer and closer to our pre-pandemic record low unemployment rate of 2.6%. Our economy is adding jobs, and earlier barriers to joining the workforce have been significantly reduced. In fact, there are more job postings than there are people counted as unemployed! Alabama is, once again, open for business.”

Wage and salary employment grew in May by 4,700.  Monthly gains were seen in the leisure and hospitality sector (+5,000), the trade, transportation, and utilities sector (+2,500), and the education and health services sector (+1,200), among others.  Over the year, wage and salary employment increased 123,000, with gains in the leisure and hospitality sector (+37,100), the professional and business services sector (+23,000), and the manufacturing sector (+22,900), among others.

Alabama’s online jobs ads, as measured by the state’s Help Wanted Online (HWOL) survey, registered at 89,105 in May.

“As we continue to see improvement in nearly all sectors of the economy, we’re also seeing record high wages in Alabama,” said Washington. “Once again, our average weekly wages are at new record high, representing an almost $67 per week over-the-year increase. Both the leisure and hospitality and manufacturing sectors are showing record high wages as well, with significant yearly increases. The economy is responding as we expected to labor force fluctuations brought about by the pandemic.”

The average weekly earnings for the private sector rose to a new record high of $974.12, up $66.91 over the year. The average weekly earnings for the leisure and hospitality sector also rose to a new record high of $387.36, up $27.55 over the year.  The manufacturing sector’s weekly wages rose to $1,209.84, up $191.04 over the year.

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates are: Shelby County at 1.8%, Blount County at 1.9%, and Marshall, Franklin, and DeKalb Counties at 2.0%.  Counties with the highest unemployment rates are: Wilcox County at 8.8%, Lowndes County at 8.2%, and Perry County at 7.0%.

Major cities with the lowest unemployment rates are: Alabaster at 1.7%, Hoover and Madison at 1.9%, and Vestavia Hills at 2.0%.  Major cities with the highest unemployment rates are: Selma at 7.0%, Prichard at 6.5%, and Bessemer at 5.2%.


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.