Jobless rate rises in Shelby County, state

Shelby County’s unemployment rate rose in January along with Alabama’s rate.

Shelby County’s preliminary unemployment rate for January was 5 percent, according to the most recent report from the Alabama Department of Labor, an increase over the December 2016 revised rate of 4.4 percent and the January 2016 revised rate of 4.4 percent.

Alabama’s seasonally adjusted preliminary rate for January was 6.4 percent, up from the December 2016 rate of 6.3 percent and the January 2016 rate of 6.1 percent.

Local cities also experienced growth in unemployment.

Alabaster’s unemployment rate was 4.9 percent in January compared to 4.2 percent in December 2016 and 4.5 percent in January 2016.

Hoover’s rate was 4.6 percent in January compared to 4 percent in December 2016 and 4.2 percent in January 2016.

Shelby County’s jobless rate was still the best in Alabama, followed by Elmore County at 5.6 percent and Cullman County at 5.7 percent.

The county’s rate represents 5,378 unemployed people out of a civilian labor force of 108,590.

Rates for Shelby County neighbors include Jefferson County at 6.5 percent, St. Clair County at 6.1 percent, Talladega County at 8 percent, Coosa County at 7.3 percent, Chilton County at 6.3 percent and Bibb County at 6.9 percent.

Counties with the highest unemployment rates were Wilcox at 17.1 percent, Clarke at 12.8 percent and Lowndes at 12.6 percent.

Major cities with the lowest unemployment rates were Vestavia Hills at 4.2 percent, Homewood at 4.4 percent and Hoover.

Major cities with the highest unemployment were Prichard at 11.9 percent, Selma at 11.5 percent and Bessemer at 9.9 percent.

Alabama’s January rate represents 141,268 unemployed persons, compared to 137,875 in December 2016 and 131,483 in January 2016. There were 2,054,204 people working in January, up from December 2016’s count of 2,047,753, and significantly higher than January 2016’s count of 2,034,498.

“Our unemployment rate rose because nearly 10,000 more people entered the labor force last month, and about 6,500 of them found work,” ADL Secretary Fitzgerald Washington said. “The others remain unemployed. When you have an increase in the labor force, and all of those people aren’t able to find work, you will see up an uptick in the rate.

“However, there is good news in this month’s economic report. We continue to surpass our employment numbers each month, and once again, I can say that we currently have more people working in Alabama than there have been in more than eight years. Our labor force is larger than it has been in more than five years. Average weekly earnings for our workers are up both over the month and the year. These are positive indicators for our economy.”

Average weekly earnings measured $789.66 in January, up from $783.13 in December 2016, and $768.58 in January 2016. Average hourly earnings followed suit, with January measuring $22.37 per hour, up from $22.06 in December 2016 and $21.65 in January 2016.

Wage and salary employment increased over the year by 26,700. Gains were seen in the education and health services sector (7,200), the leisure and hospitality sector (6,000), and the manufacturing sector (4,800), among others.