Alabama had a record low seasonally adjusted employment rate of 3.7 percent in January, according to statistics released Monday by the state Department of Labor.
However, the unemployment rates in Gadsden and Etowah County rose during the month, although they still were well below the 2017 numbers.
The preliminary and seasonally adjusted state unemployment rate in January was 3.7 percent, 0.1 of a percent below the previous low rate of 3.8 percent recorded in October through December last year, and in several months in 2007. It was significantly below the January 2017 rate of 5.5 percent.
State officials originally reported the November and December unemployment rates last year as 3.5 percent, but the final figures were revised upward after annual processing with more concrete data by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Seasonal adjustment refers to the BLS’ 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 non-adjusted state rate for January was 4.1 percent, again well below the January 2017 rate of 6.1 percent.
Etowah County’s unemployment rate was 4.3 percent in January, up from 3.5 percent in December but nearly two percentage points off the January 2017 rate of 6.2 percent. Gadsden’s rate spiked from 4.3 percent to 5 percent, but again was much improved from the 7.2 percent rate in January 2017.
The state rate represents 80,841 unemployed people, compared to 82,378 in December and 120,788 in January 2017. 2,079,871 people were counted as employed, compared to 2,081,176 in December and 2,057,886 in January 2017.
“We have been working hard for months to bring quality, high-paying jobs to Alabama, and we’re putting our people back to work,” Gov. Kay Ivey said. “We will continue this work in 2018, and we hope to maintain these fantastic numbers.”
Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington said, “Even with the adjustments, we are still in an extremely good place. It was recently announced that our yearly average unemployment rate in 2017 dropped more than any other state in the country. Our wage and salary employment continues to show yearly increases, and all 67 counties have experienced significant yearly drops in their unemployment rates.”
Those declines ranged from 1.2 percent in Autauga County to 4.9 in Wilcox County.
Over the year, wage and salary employment increased 17,700, with gains in the leisure and hospitality sector (up 6,000), the education and health services sector (up 5,600) and the professional and business services sector (up 4,800), among others.
Elsewhere in Northeast Alabama in January, Calhoun County was at 4.7 percent unemployment (up from 3.8 percent in December), Cherokee at 3.9 percent (up from 3.1), DeKalb at 4.2 percent (up from 3.3), Marshall at 3.6 percent (up from 2.9), and St. Clair at 3.7 percent (up from 3.1).
Counties with the lowest unemployment rates in January were Shelby at 3.0 percent, Cullman at 3.5 percent and Marshall, Madison, Elmore and Blount at 3.6 percent. Counties with the highest rates are Wilcox at 10.4 percent, Clarke at 8.1 percent and Lowndes at 7.5 percent.
Major cities with the lowest unemployment rates in January were Vestavia Hills at 2.5 percent, Homewood and Hoover at 2.8 percent and Alabaster and Northport at 2.9 percent. Posting the highest rates were Prichard at 7.7 percent, Selma at 7 percent and Anniston at 5.8 percent.