Unemployment rates fall statewide

Published 5:51 pm Friday, June 16, 2017

2017 has proven a good year for workers within Butler County, as the unemployment rate continues to plummet month after month.

According to the Alabama Department of Labor, Butler County experienced an unemployment rate of 5.1 percent in May 2017.  That statistic represents a noticeable fall from April’s rate of 5.5 percent and a significant fall from May 2016’s rate of 6.4 percent.

Governor Kay Ivey, along with Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington, announced Friday that Alabama’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted May unemployment rate is 4.9 percent, down from April’s rate of 5.4 percent, and significantly lower than May 2016’s rate of 5.8 percent. 

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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.”

Neighboring counties experienced a similar drop in their unemployment rates.

Crenshaw County experienced a less steep drop from month to month, though its overall unemployment rate sits even lower than Butler County’s at 4.2 percent. That figure is down from 4.4 percent in April, and even further down from May 2016’s figure of 5.3 percent.

Lowndes County experienced the sharpest drop of all, from 8.1 percent in April to 7.4 percent in May.  Both of those figures are down drastically from May 2016’s figure of 10 percent.  Lowndes County still boasts the third-highest unemployment rate in the state, behind Clarke County (8 percent) and Wilcox County (10.9 percent).

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.