Alabama unemployment rises slightly in December

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Alabama’s unemployment rate ticked up a fraction in December to 6.2 percent, according to an announcement Friday from Gov. Robert Bentley.

“Although a slight increase in the unemployment rate is never celebrated, this month’s increase is attributed to the fact that the labor force increased by nearly 10,000, while people were out looking for work, seasonal or otherwise,” Alabama Labor Commissioner Fitzgerald Washington said in a news release. “December’s labor force count was on par with the summer months, which is traditionally when the most people are searching for work.”

Washington noted that an increase in the labor force represents “increased confidence in the job market.”

According to the release, wage-and-salary employment jumped by 45,500 compared with January of last year. The civilian labor force increased by more than 9,000 between November and December and by more than 24,000 since December 2014.

Between December 2014 and December 2015, the most significant employment gains were noted in the education and health services sector, the leisure and hospitality sector, the trade, transportation and utilities sector, and the construction sector.

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates are Shelby County, at 4.1 percent, Elmore and Lee counties, at 4.9 percent, and Autauga, Cullman and St. Clair counties at 5 percent.

Counties such as Clarke, Greene, Lowndes, Perry and Wilcox are all experiencing unemployment in the double digits.

“In January 2015, economists predicted that wage and salary employment would grow in Alabama by 33,800 in 2015, and we surpassed that number by more than 10,000 jobs,” Bentley said in the news release. “Employers are hiring in Alabama, and these numbers prove it. We will continue our efforts to recruit and add jobs to the economy in 2016.”

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