April state unemployment rate drops to 5.4%; Cullman Co. rate plummets to 3.7%

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MONTGOMERY – Alabama Department of Labor Sec. Fitzgerald Washington announced Friday that Alabama’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted April unemployment rate is 5.4 percent, down from March’s rate of 5.8 percent, and well below April 2016’s rate of 5.8 percent. Cullman County maintains the state’s third-lowest rate, at 3.7 percent, down substantially from March’s rate of 4.5 percent.

April’s statewide rate represents 119,256 unemployed persons, compared to 128,610 in March and 126,490 in April 2016. 2,088,884 people were working in April, up from 2,080,300 in March and 2,038,043 in April 2016.

“Fifty thousand more Alabamians are working now compared to last year. This represents thousands of Alabama families that now have more opportunity than before,” Gov. Kay Ivey said. “I am proud they have opportunities to put their skills into action. We haven’t seen an unemployment rate this low in nearly nine years. I took office in April and these numbers from that month confirm our message that 'Alabama is open for business' is being heard loud and clear."

The last time the unemployment rate was at or below 5.4 percent was in May 2008, when it measured 5.2 percent.

“On top of the drop in the unemployment rate, we’ve also reached a huge milestone in wage and salary employment,” said Washington.  “We’ve long said that reaching the two million jobs

mark would be a true indicator of economic health. We’ve surpassed that number for the first time in almost nine years.  Employers are hiring in Alabama, and it shows in these numbers.”

Wage and salary employment, totaling 2,001,800 in April, grew by 10,400. Monthly gains were seen in the leisure and hospitality sector (+4,800), the professional and business services sector (+1,600), and the government sector (+1,400), among others.

The last time wage and salary employment measured more than two million was in June 2008, when it measured 2,012,100.

Over the year, wage and salary employment increased 22,400, with gains in the education and health services sector (+6,600), the professional and business services sector (+4,400), and the leisure and hospitality sector (+4,400), among others.

“Every metropolitan statistical area and every county in the state saw their rates drop both over the month and over the year,” continued Washington. “Wilcox County, which traditionally has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state, saw its rate drop two full percentage points this month.”

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates are: Shelby County at 3.3 percent, Elmore County at 3.6 percent and Cullman County at 3.7 percent. Counties with the highest unemployment rates are: Wilcox County at 11.7 percent, Clarke County at 8.5 percent and Lowndes County at 8.1 percent.

Major cities with the lowest unemployment rates are: Homewood and Vestavia Hills at 2.9 percent, Hoover at 3.1 percent and Alabaster at 3.2 percent. Major cities with the highest unemployment rates are: Prichard at 8.2 percent, Selma at 7.8 percent and Bessemer at 6.2 percent.

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