State, local unemployment rates drop significantly

Alabama had the largest unemployment rate decrease in the nation in August, both over the month and over the year, according to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Alabama’s unemployment rate dropped by 0.3 percentage points from July to August, and 1.7 percentage points from August 2016 to August 2017.

The 4.2-percent rate was down from July’s rate of 4.5 percent and below August 2016’s rate of 5.9 percent.

“The news that Alabama experienced the largest rate drop in the country is most welcome,” said Fitzgerald Washington, secretary of the Alabama Department of Labor. “We are committed to working with employers and jobseekers to ensure that we continue to put people back to work.”

The comparable national unemployment rate is 4.4 percent, up slightly from July’s rate of 4.3 percent. The last time Alabama’s unemployment rate was below the national rate was in October 2013.

“After hovering near the national unemployment rate for several months, Alabama’s rate has dropped below it for the first time in many years,” Gov. Kay Ivey said. “This is a milestone we’ve been working toward for some time. We announced this week that Autocar, LLC. is opening a new plant in Birmingham, bringing nearly 750 new jobs. As we continue to recruit new businesses to Alabama, hopefully, we’ll be able to maintain that achievement in the months to come.”

All counties, major cities, and metropolitan statistical areas in Alabama experienced drops in their unemployment rates, both over the year and over the month.

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates were Shelby County at 3.2 percent; Cullman County at 3.6 percent; and Elmore, Madison, and Marshall Counties at 3.7 percent.

Shelby County’s rate was down from 3.5 percent in July and 4.6 percent in August 2016.

The rate represents 3,425 unemployed people out of a civilian labor force of 108,206.

Counties with the highest unemployment rates were Wilcox County at 11.3 percent, Clarke County at 8.6 percent and Greene County at 7.8 percent.

Unemployment rates for counties bordering Shelby at Jefferson at 4.1 percent, St. Clair at 3.9 percent, Talladega at 4.7 percent, Coosa at 4.3 percent, Chilton at 3.9 percent and Bibb at 4.2 percent.

Major cities with the lowest unemployment rates were Vestavia Hills at 2.8 percent, Homewood at 2.9 percent and Alabaster at 3 percent.

Alabaster’s rate was down from 3.4 percent in July and 4.5 percent in August 2016.

The rate represents 520 unemployed people out of a civilian labor force of 17,385.

Major cities with the highest unemployment rates were Selma at 8.3 percent, Prichard at 8 percent and Bessemer at 5.6 percent.