Alabama unemployment near flat at 6% in November

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Alabama’s unemployment rate was 6 percent for the month of November, down from 6.2 and 6.1 percent in recent months but slightly up from a seasonally adjusted 5.9 percent in October, according to new figures from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The office of Gov. Robert Bentley celebrated the news in a release Friday, saying recent employment growth has reached just 25,000 jobs short of prerecession levels.

“We are coming closer and closer to hitting that golden wage and salary employment number of 2 million jobs,”  Bentley said. “We are less than 25,000 jobs shy of attaining pre-recession employment levels in Alabama. We haven’t seen wage and salary employment at 2 million since June 2008, prior to the recession’s effects in our state. Our economy is strong, and my goal is that every Alabamian who wants a job can obtain one.”

The Bentley administration also put a positive spin on the marginal increase over October’s jobless numbers.

“The very slight uptick in November’s unemployment rate is due to the fact that more people entered the workforce, perhaps looking for seasonal employment,” said Alabama Labor Department Commissioner Fitzgerald Washington. “Additionally, more people are employed both over the month and over the year, so this small increase is not necessarily bad news.”

According to the governor’s office, the Civilian Labor Force (CLF) increased in November to 2,146,294 from 2,141,221 in October and from 2,130,131 in November 2014 (seasonally adjusted). CLF employment also increased to 2,018,189 from 2,014,056 in October and from 1,999,222 in November 2014.

Wage and salary employment increased in November by 12,800 to 1,975,700. Monthly gains were seen in the trade, transportation, and utilities sector (+9,100), the education and health services sector (+2,800), and the government sector (+1,800), among others, according to a release.

These numbers correspond to the statewide jobs market, though some rural counties continue to lag behind state and national averages.

The hardest-hit counties in Alabama? Wilcox County at 13.5 percent, Lowndes County at 10.6 percent, Clarke at 10.5 percent, and Greene at 10.1 percent. Those are the only counties with double-digit jobless rates.

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates are Shelby County at 4.0 percent, Lee County at 4.7 percent, and Elmore, Cullman, and St. Clair counties at 4.8 percent.

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