(October 16, 2020) – Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington announced today that Alabama’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted September unemployment rate is 6.6%, up from August’s rate of 5.6%, and above September 2019’s rate of 2.7%.  September’s rate represents 148,912 unemployed persons, compared to 125,855 in August and 61,495 in September 2019.

“As we continue to gauge the economic impacts of this pandemic, we expect to see fluctuations in our unemployment rate,” said Washington.  “In September, we saw fewer people entering the labor force, fewer people working, and more who were counted as unemployed.  All of those factors will increase the unemployment rate.  We will continue to work with employers and the unemployed to put Alabamians back to work.”

“We did see an increase in the number of jobs the economy is supporting, with a gain of a little more than 9,000,” continued Washington.  “We hope to see hiring pick up over the next couple of months as we approach the holiday season.”

Wage and salary employment grew in September by 9,300.  Monthly gains were seen in the government sector (+6,100), the professional and business services sector (+4,500), and the education and health services sector (+2,400), among others.  Over the year, wage and salary employment decreased 70,800, with losses in the leisure and hospitality sector (-29,400), the education and health services sector (-19,300), and the government sector (-7,800), among others.

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates are: Cullman County at 3.8%, Randolph, Marshall, and Franklin Counties at 3.9%, and Shelby, Clay, Cherokee, and Blount Counties at 4.0%.  Counties with the highest unemployment rates are: Wilcox County at 17.0%, Lowndes County at 15.9%, and Greene County at 11.9%.

Major cities with the lowest unemployment rates are: Homewood at 3.5%, Madison and Vestavia Hills at 3.6%, and Alabaster at 3.8%.  Major cities with the highest unemployment rates are: Prichard at 17.2%, Selma at 14.2%, and Bessemer at 12.2%.

For more information regarding how the Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates the unemployment rate, please visit https://www.bls.gov/bls/bls-covid-19-questions-and-answers.htm.

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.


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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.