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Alabama’s January Unemployment Rate is 3.7%; Sets New Record Low

March 12, 2018

Press Releases

MONTGOMERY – Governor Kay Ivey announced today that Alabama’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted January unemployment rate is 3.7%, down from December 2017’s revised rate of 3.8%, and well below January 2017’s rate of 5.5%. January’s rate represents 80,841 unemployed persons, 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.

The previous record low unemployment rate measured 3.8% in December 2017, which also tied with October and November 2017 and with several months in 2007 (pre-recession in Alabama). The preliminary rates announced for both November and December 2017 were 3.5%. Following revisions, those rates are now 3.8%.

Each year, preliminary estimates released throughout the year by the states are revised by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in a process known as “annual processing.” Annual processing allows the BLS to align preliminary estimates with more concrete data as it becomes available at the end of the year. That can lead to some preliminary estimates being revised, as was the case with December 2017’s unemployment rate.

“As we start a new year, we’re pleased to announce that we’re starting off with a new record low unemployment rate,” said Governor Ivey. “Nearly 40,000 fewer people are counted as unemployed, also setting a new record low. We have been working hard for months to bring quality, high-paying jobs to Alabama, and we’re putting our people back to work. We will continue this work in 2018, and we hope to maintain these fantastic numbers.”

“It is not uncommon for preliminary rates to be adjusted as more precise data becomes available, especially around highly seasonal periods, such as the holidays,” said Fitzgerald Washington, Secretary of the Department of Labor. “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, some as high as 4.9 percentage points.”

Over the year, wage and salary employment increased 17,700, with gains in the leisure and hospitality sector (+6,000), the education and health services sector (+5,600), and the professional and business services sector (+4,800), among others.

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates are: Shelby County at 3.0%, Cullman County at 3.5%, and Marshall, Madison, Elmore, and Blount Counties at 3.6%. Counties with the highest unemployment rates are: Wilcox County at 10.4%, Clarke County at 8.1%, and Lowndes County at 7.5%.

All 67 counties experienced yearly drops in their unemployment rates, ranging from 1.2 percentage points in Autauga County to 4.9 percentage points in Wilcox County.
Major cities with the lowest unemployment rates are: Vestavia Hills at 2.5%, Homewood and Hoover at 2.8%, and Alabaster and Northport at 2.9%. Major cities with the highest unemployment rates are: Prichard at 7.7%, Selma at 7.0%, and Anniston at 5.8%.


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.