According to just-released figures from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics: the economic news for Alabama is decent, if not inspiring: unemployment was flat in August at 6.2 percent, almost unchanged from July and slightly better than the 6.5 percent rate this time last year.
The figure was about a point worse than the national jobless rate of 5.1 percent.
Gov. Robert Bentley addressed the news in an announcement Friday, saying the news was in keeping with an encouraging upward trend.
“There was very little change this month in our unemployment numbers,” Bentley said in a statement. “We focus on the fact that we continue to show year-over-year growth in our wage and salary employment, meaning that the trend of slow and steady progress is continuing.
The governor also pointed to recent economic development he recently touted in Montgomery.
“This week, we celebrated the inauguration of operations for Airbus in Mobile and announced an expansion at Mercedes Benz with 300 new jobs. We are working every day to create jobs, and our efforts will continue,” Bentley continued.
In a release, Bentley highlighted gains in a handful of key sectors:
Over the year, wage and salary employment increased 23,300, with gains in the education and health services sector (+7,700), the leisure and hospitality sector (+4,700), and the construction sector (+4,000), among others.
Wage and salary employment increased in August by 900. Monthly gains were seen in the government sector (+1,600), the education and health services sector (+1,000), and the leisure and hospitality sector (+700), among others.
State labor department chief Fitzgerald Washington also sounded optimistic.
“All of the metro areas saw their unemployment rates drop or remain constant over the month, and 64 of 67 counties saw their rate either drop or remain constant in August,” Washington said. “Only one Alabama county experienced an increase in its unemployment rate over the year, which is telling us that all across the state, things are improving.”
In Shelby County, the jobless rate was lower than the national average, at 4.7 percent. Shelby – located in the suburban southern portion of the Birmingham-Hoover metro area – was the only county in the state with that distinction last month.