Governor Robert Bentley on Friday announced that Alabama's preliminary May unemployment rate is 6.8%, down from April's rate of 6.9% and well below last year's rate of 7.5%. May's rate represents 147,788 unemployed persons, compared to 150,401 last month and 161,848 in May of 2012.
The seasonally-adjusted employment numbers continue to show growth in Alabama's labor force and the number of people employed, along with a decrease in the number of people unemployed. The number of people in the labor force in May of 2013 increased to 2,181,316, up from 2,177,714 in April, while the number of people employed in May increased to 2,033,528, up from 2,027,313 in April.
"We are continuing to move in the right direction, and we are working every day to recruit more jobs to Alabama," Governor Bentley said. "For example, I met with leaders from dozens of aerospace companies this week at the Paris Air Show, and we discussed our efforts to grow Alabama's aviation industry and create more jobs. We're also moving forward with our Accelerate Alabama plan, which focuses not only on aviation, but also on several other industries that are ready for growth here in Alabama."
Alabama Department of Labor Commissioner Tom Surtees said the past four months have shown growth in the labor force and growth in employment. Three of those months had reductions in unemployment as well.
"Our unemployment performance measures are at five-year lows: first time filers, the amount being paid in benefit payments, and the number of weeks compensated are all at their lowest points in years," Surtees said.
Initial claims in May of 2013 were 20,553, compared to a high of 66,249 in December of 2008. Benefit payments were $21,180,026 in May of 2013, compared to a high of $69,844,961 in June of 2009. The number of weeks compensated in May of 2013 were 103,274, compared to a high of 338,564, also in June of 2009.
Wage and Salary employment increased in May by 7,000. The largest increase was in the leisure and hospitality industry (+4,200). There were also increases in the following industries: professional and business services (+1,900); other services (+1,000); construction (+800); trade, transportation and utilities (+800); manufacturing (+400); information (+300) and financial activities (+300).
"We are also beginning to see increases in the number of retail jobs and jobs related to tourism. We expect these numbers to increase as the summer continues and seasonal employers hire more people for the busy summer season," Surtees added. "The manufacturing and construction industries are also gaining jobs, indicating healthy economic growth."
The counties with the lowest unemployment rates are: Shelby County at 4.3%, Blount and Lee Counties at 5.0%, and Autauga and Cullman Counties at 5.4%.
The counties with the highest unemployment rates are: Wilcox County at 14.7%, Perry County at 12.6%, and Dallas County at 12.5%.