MONTGOMERY – The Alabama Department of Labor released the state’s latest unemployment numbers Friday morning. Alabama’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted March 2018 unemployment rate is 3.8 percent, up slightly from February’s rate of 3.7 percent, well below March 2017’s rate of 5.0 percent. Cullman County’s rate fell to 3.2 percent, down from 3.6 percent in February 2018, and significantly down from March 2017’s rate of 4.2 percent.
Statewide, March’s rate represents 81,229 unemployed persons, compared to 80,571 in February and 109,645 in March 2017.
According to Alabama Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington, over the year, Alabama’s wage and salary employment increased 20,100, with gains in the leisure and hospitality sector (+4,400), the professional and business services sector (+3,400), and the education and health services sector (+3,400), among others.
Wage and salary employment increased in March by 12,600, compared to February 2018. Monthly gains were seen in the leisure and hospitality sector (+4,600), the professional and business services sector (+2,500), the trade, transportation, and utilities sector (+1,900), and the construction sector (+1,600), among others.
In March, 2,081,906 people were counted as employed, up from February’s count of 2,080,346, and significantly higher than March 2017’s count of 2,063,770.
“Alabama is benefiting from a strong economy right now, and this month’s employment numbers show that we are keeping that momentum going,” said Washington. “Alabamians are working and employers are adding jobs. Not only that, but wages are rising as well. In fact, our construction industry is recording its highest weekly wages in more than a decade.”
Average weekly earnings in the construction sector were $975.53 in March, the highest in a decade, up $64.25 from February, and up $87.99 from March 2017. Average weekly earnings for all private industry were $811.01 in March, up $4.96 from February, and up $28.16 from March 2017.
“All of our major cities and metro areas saw their unemployment rates drop both over the month and over the year,” continued Washington. “Sixty-six of 67 counties saw their rates drop this month, and all counties have significantly lower rates now than they did a year ago. We can also once again say that all of our counties have single digit unemployment rates, as Wilcox County had both the largest monthly and yearly drop to bring its rate down to 9.4 percent.”
Counties with the lowest unemployment rates are: Shelby County at 2.8 percent, Cullman County at 3.2 percent and Marshall County at 3.3 percent. Counties with the highest unemployment rates are: Wilcox County at 9.4 percent, Clarke County at 7.4 percent and Lowndes County at 6.9 percent.
Major cities with the lowest unemployment rates are: Vestavia Hills at 2.4 percent, Homewood at 2.6 percent, and Alabaster, Hoover and Northport at 2.8 percent. Major cities with the highest unemployment rates are: Prichard at 6.9 percent, Selma at 6.4 percent and Anniston at 5.7 percent.
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