MONTGOMERY – Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington announced today that Alabama’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted December unemployment rate is 3.1%, unchanged from November’s rate, and below December 2020’s rate of 4.7%. December’s rate represents 69,854 unemployed persons, compared to 68,710 in November and 106,318 in December 2020.
“For five months now, our unemployment rate has held steady at 3.1%,” said Washington. “We all know of the challenges facing today’s workforce, most of which are still pandemic related, and we’re grateful that Alabama is weathering these challenges. Since last year, more than 36,000 people are no longer counted as unemployed, and we saw more than 7,000 additional people shift to the employed column since last month.”
Over the year, wage and salary employment increased 48,400, with gains in the trade, transportation, and utilities sector (+11,700), the leisure and hospitality sector (+11,000), and the manufacturing sector (+8,800), among others.
“We continue to see improvement in our wages as well,” continued Washington. “Total private weekly wages are up $26.65 over the year, manufacturing weekly wages are up $85.17 over the year, and the Professional & Business Services and Leisure & Hospitality sectors both saw new record high weekly wages in December.”
Total private weekly wages were $973.41 in December, representing a $26.65 yearly increase. Manufacturing weekly wages were $1,258.17, representing an $85.17 yearly increase. In the Professional & Business Services sector, a new record high weekly wage was recorded at $1,245.05, and the Leisure & Hospitality sector also saw a new record high weekly wage at $412.25, an increase of $57.94 over the year.
Over the month, 65 of 67 counties saw their unemployment rate decrease or remain the same in December. All 67 counties saw unemployment rate decreases over the year.
Counties with the lowest unemployment rates are: Shelby and Cullman Counties at 1.8%, Marshall and Blount Counties at 1.9%, and Limestone, Dekalb, Clay, and Cherokee Counties at 2.0%. Counties with the highest unemployment rates are: Wilcox County at 10.3%, Lowndes County at 8.4%, and Perry County at 7.2%.
Major cities with the lowest unemployment rates are: Athens at 1.4%, Alabaster at 1.7%, and Homewood, Madison, and Vestavia Hills at 1.8%. Major cities with the highest unemployment rates are: Selma at 8.1%, Prichard at 6.9%, and Anniston at 5.1%.
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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.