Unemployment rate continues to improve across county and state

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor 

Eight months ago, the economy was headed in the wrong direction when COVID-19 made its impact felt across the country, and we weren’t sure when we would see improvement. But that improvement may be happening sooner than we expected.

There are still many without jobs, but the unemployment rate has drastically increased since the start of the virus. After the county hit 14.7 percent back in April and the state hit 12.9 percent, there has been a slight increase each month, and now the unemployment rate is 2.4 percent in Shelby County and 4.4 percent in the state.

“As we are nearing the end of a definitively turbulent year, it’s truly great news to see our unemployment rate drop below 5 percent,” said Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington.  “We’re not where we were prior to the pandemic, and it may take more time to get there, but we’re making progress. We’ve got more people working now than at any time since the pandemic started. We remain dedicated to helping those who were impacted by the pandemic by helping them find jobs or get the training they need to start new careers.”

Despite being above last year’s November rate of 2.7 percent, the state’s rate of 4.4 percent is down from October’s rate of 5.7 percent and down 8.5 percent from the highest of the year back in April.

The county’s unemployment rate of 2.4 percent is tied with Marshall and Franklin counties for the lowest unemployment rate in the state, while Alabaster and Hoover have two of the lowest rates for cities with Alabaster at 2.3 percent and Hoover at 2.5 percent.

The county’s rate is slightly higher than last November’s rate of 1.8 percent, which was during a stretch of record-low unemployment, but has dwindled down from more than 12 percent since April.

It also marks an improvement from October’s unemployment rate of 3.3 percent.

Weekly unemployment claims across the state have continually gone down since the last week of March and first week of April. During the week ending March 28 there were 80,984 unemployment claims across the state, while a week later there were 106,739.

The numbers started to decline down below 20,000 in early July, before then climbing back to 23,678. But since, it has steadily declined and was at 7,569 claims during the week ending Dec. 12.

That’s close to 100,000 less initial unemployment claims than were reported seven months earlier in April.