MONTGOMERY – Alabama’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted unemployment December rate is 3.9 percent, down from November’s rate of 4.0 percent, and slightly above December 2017’s rate of 3.8 percent.
Cullman County’s December rate is 2.9 percent, unchanged from November’s rate and just slightly above December 2017’s rate of 2.8 percent. Cullman County’s rate remains the second lowest in the state.
For seven consecutive months, the number of people counted as employed has reached record highs, with December’s count measuring 2,130,194, an increase from November’s count of 2,127,934, and an increase of 49,018 compared to December 2017’s count of 2,081,176. December’s rate represents 86,023 unemployed persons, compared to 87,754 in November and 82,378 in December 2017.
Counties with the lowest unemployment rates are: Shelby County at 2.5 percent, Cullman County at 2.9 percent, and Marshall, Madison, Limestone, and Elmore Counties at 3.0 percent. Counties with the highest unemployment rates are: Wilcox County at 8.7 percent, Clarke County at 7.1 percent, and Dallas County at 6.6 percent.
Major cities with the lowest unemployment rates are: Homewood and Vestavia Hills at 2.3 percent, Alabaster, Hoover, Madison, and Northport at 2.5 percent, and Daphne at 2.9 percent. Major cities with the highest unemployment rates are: Selma at 7.9 percent, Prichard at 6.3 percent, and Bessemer at 4.8 percent.
Job growth, weekly earnings at record highs
Alabama experienced a job growth rate of 2.2 percent from December 2017 to December 2018, the largest over-the-year percentage growth on record. This growth represents an increase of 44,300 jobs.
“We are ending 2018 with great economic news all around,” said Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington. “To see this kind of record job growth is extraordinary. Alabama employers have added nearly 45,000 jobs over the past year – economists predicted that our economy would grow by 27,000 jobs. I’m happy to say that we more than exceeded their predictions.”
Nationally, the U.S. recorded an over-the-year job growth rate of 1.8 percent.
Alabama’s wage and salary employment again reached a record high for the fourth consecutive month, measuring 2,072,600 in December. Over the year, wage and salary employment increased 44,300, with gains in the professional and business services sector (+12,600), the manufacturing sector (+11,300), and the government sector (+5,000), among others.
Monthly gains were seen in the manufacturing sector (+3,000), the trade, transportation, and utilities sector (+1,300), and the education and health services sector (+900), among others.
“Alabamians are earning more than ever before. This month, we saw the highest average weekly earnings in history,” continued Washington. “This means more money in the pockets of working Alabamians, helping them to better provide for their families and grow the economy.”
Average weekly earnings in Alabama reached their highest level ever in December, measuring $857.77. Earnings in four subsectors also reached record highs: goods producing saw average weekly earnings of $1,054.16, manufacturing measured $1,074.33, financial activities measured $1,097.26, and professional and business services measured $1,081.61.