Unemployment rates drop from historic highs

Published 11:33 am Friday, June 19, 2020

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MONTGOMERY – Though Alabama’s, and Shelby County’s, unemployment rates remain well above last year’s marks, the rates for May were below April’s rates, which were the highest in almost 40 years.

Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington announced that Alabama’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted May unemployment rate is 9.9 percent, down from April’s revised rate of 13.8 percent, and above May 2019’s rate of 3 percent. May’s rate represents 221,811 unemployed persons, compared to 302,535 in April and 68,057 in May 2019.

“This month’s decrease in the unemployment rate reflects that people are returning to work following the pandemic-related shutdown,” Gov. Kay Ivey said. “While we are nowhere near pre-pandemic levels, a monthly decrease of nearly 4 percentage points is certainly a positive. Alabama, along with the rest of the nation, will be feeling the impacts brought on by this virus for months to come. My administration is committed to helping return Alabamians to their jobs safely, and to helping Alabama businesses to reopen and grow.”

“While we are still far short of last year’s economic markers, we did show significant improvement over the last month,” Washington said. “More than 80,000 fewer people were counted as unemployed last month, while the number of employed rose by more than 128,300.”

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates were: Clay County at 5.6 percent, Geneva County at 6.3 percent and Shelby County at 6.5 percent.

Counties with the highest unemployment rates were Wilcox County at 19.3 percent, Lowndes County at 18.3 percent and Greene County at 16.4 percent.

Shelby County’s rate was 9.2 percent in April and 1.8 percent in May 2019.

Major cities with the lowest unemployment rates were Vestavia Hills at 5.2 percent, Homewood at 5.4 percent and Madison at 6.2 percent.

Major cities with the highest unemployment rates were Prichard at 18.6 percent, Selma at 17.1 percent and Gadsden at 15.7 percent.

Alabaster had an unemployment rate of 6.4 percent for May, compared to 8.7 percent in April and 1.8 percent in May 2019.

Hoover’s rate was 6.9 percent in May, 9.4 percent in April and 1.8 percent in May 2019.

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