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Alabama's labor force participation rate remains well below the national average

On Friday, Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington announced today that Alabama's labor force participation rate was unchanged for the month of May at 57.5%.

The national average in May was 62.5%. Alabama edged out Kentucky, New Mexico, West Virginia, and Mississippi with 57.2%, 57.1%, 55.5%, and 53.8% respectively. South Carolina was also at 57.5%. The District of Columbia, North Dakota, Utah, Nebraska, Minnesota led the nation at 72.7%, 68.9%, 68.7%, 68.5%, and 68.0%.

The percentage of prime-age workers increased by one-tenth of a percentage point to 79.2% over the month. Over the year, this number increased by one and six-tenths percentage points from 77.6%. Prime-age workers are those aged 25 to 54 years of age.

"Our over the year growth in prime age workers participating in the labor force continues to be encouraging," said Washington. "We're also seeing record high numbers in our civilian labor force and the number of people who are working. In May, nearly 38,000 more people decided to enter into the job market than at the same time last year."

Alabama's preliminary, seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 3.0%, down slightly from April 2023's revised rate of 3.1%. The May rate is significantly higher than May 2023's rate of 2.3%, but part of this is due to the rising size of the total workforce. The unemployment rate represents 70,679 unemployed persons, compared to 72,045 in April and just 52,341 in May of 2023.

The number of people counted as employed increased by 19,648 over the year to 2,266,164, a new record high. The civilian labor force also increased to 2,336,843, with 37,986 more people joining over the year. This is also a new record high.

Over the year, wage and salary employment increased by 49,200 to 2,208,400, a new record high. The largest gains were in the private education and health sector (+11,500), the government sector (+9,200), and the manufacturing sector (+8,600), among others.

"This job growth is indicative of positive trends in our economy," continued Washington. "As we continue to set higher and higher record jobs count numbers, we're also seeing wage growth in many sectors, with some hitting new record highs."

The trade, transportation, and utilities sector reached a new record high weekly wage with $881.01, up $56.88 from last year.

The Alabama counties with the lowest unemployment rates are: Shelby County at 1.8%, Morgan County at 1.9%, and Cullman, Elmore, Limestone, Madison, and Marshall Counties at 2.0%. The counties with the highest unemployment rates are all all rural counties in the Black Belt. Wilcox County is at 6.8%, Perry County is at 4.5%, and Dallas County is at 4.4%.

The major cities with the lowest unemployment rates are all in North Alabama. Trussville is at 1.6%, Homewood and Vestavia Hills are at 1.7%, and Alabaster, Hoover, and Madison are at 1.8%. The major cities with the highest unemployment rates are: Selma at 5.3%, Prichard at 4.3%, and Bessemer at 3.4%.


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