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Alabama’s May Unemployment Rate Falls to 4.9% in Ivey’s First Month as Governor

June 16, 2017

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OFFICE OF GOVERNOR KAY IVEY
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: FRIDAY, JUNE 16, 2017

Alabama’s May Unemployment Rate Falls to 4.9% in Ivey’s First Month as Governor
Lowest Rate Since March 2008; Wage and Salary Employment Fourth Highest in History

MONTGOMERY – Governor Kay Ivey, along with Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington, announced today that Alabama’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted May unemployment rate is 4.9%, down from April’s rate of 5.4%, and significantly lower than May 2016’s rate of 5.8%. May’s rate represents 107,364 unemployed persons, compared to 119,113 in April and 125,153 in May 2016. May’s rate represents 2,089,217 employed Alabamians, compared to 2,088,764 in April and 2,038,912 in May 2016.
"Over the past three months, our unemployment rate has fallen by an impressive 1.3 percentage points. May's figures represent the lowest unemployment rate in more than nine years and more people working now than in the last ten years,” Governor Ivey said. “It is a team effort, and I sure am proud this rate decrease occurred during my first full month in office. We will continue to exhaust every effort and explore every opportunity until every Alabamian who wants a job, has a job.”
The last time Alabama’s unemployment rate was at or below 4.9% was March 2008 when it measured 4.8%. The last time Current Population Survey (CPS) employment measured at or above 2,089,217 was March 2007, when it was 2,090,126.
“Fifty thousand more people have jobs now than they did last year,” Secretary Washington said. “Increased confidence in our economy is evidenced by not only that fact, but also that our employers are reporting the highest wage and salary employment numbers in almost a decade. In fact, this is the fourth highest wage and salary employment count since we started keeping records in 1939.”
Wage and salary employment, totaling 2,014,600, increased in May by 13,100. Monthly gains were seen in the leisure and hospitality sector (+6,100), the construction sector (+3,100), and the manufacturing sector (+1,500), among others.
The only other times wage and salary employment surpassed 2,014,600 were in December 2007 (2,026,700), November 2007 (2,022,000), and June 2007 (2,018,400).
Over the year, wage and salary employment increased by 33,000, with gains in the leisure and hospitality sector (+7,500), the manufacturing sector (+6,300), and the education and health services sector (+6,000), among others.
All metropolitan areas had rate decreases both over-the-month and over-the-year. Only one county (Sumter) experienced a rate increase over-the-month, and all counties saw their rates drop over-the-year.
“Several years ago, in the heart of the recession, it wasn’t uncommon to see more than half of our counties with double digit unemployment rates, particularly in the rural counties. Today, only one county has double digit unemployment, and its rate has dropped by two full percentage points over the year,” Washington added.
Counties with the lowest unemployment rates are: Shelby County at 3.1%, Elmore County at 3.4%, and Cullman County at 3.5%. Counties with the highest unemployment rates are: Wilcox County at 10.9%, Clarke County at 8.0%, and Lowndes County at 7.4%.
Major cities with the lowest unemployment rates are: Vestavia Hills at 2.7%, Homewood at 2.8%, and Hoover at 3.0%. Major cities with the highest unemployment rates are: Prichard at 7.4%, Selma at 7.3%, and Anniston at 5.6%.
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Members of the media seeking more information should contact Communications Director Tara Hutchison at (334) 242-8616.
“Seasonal adjustment” refers to BLS’s practice of anticipating certain trends in the labor force, such as hiring during the holidays or the surge in the labor force when students graduate in the spring, and removing their effects to the civilian labor force.
The Current Population (CPS), or the household survey, is conducted by the Census Bureau and identifies members of the work force and measures how many people are working or looking for work.
The establishment survey, which is conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a division of the U.S. Department of Labor, surveys employers to measure how many jobs are in the economy. This is also referred to as wage and salary employment.