Unemployment map

MONTGOMERY — The Alabama Department of Labor announced Friday that the state’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted April unemployment rate increased to 12.9%, up from March’s revised level of 3%, and above April 2019’s rate of 3.2%.

April’s rate represents 283,787 unemployed res- idents and is an increase of 216,783 over the month. Those counted as employed decreased to 1,911,512 in April, down from March’s count of 2,151,586.

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates are Geneva at 8.1%, Bullock and Pike at 9.1%, and Shelby and Henry at 9.2%.

Counties with the highest unemployment rates are Lowndes at 26.0%, Wilcox at 22.8%, and Greene at 22.2%.

In addition to Geneva, Pike and Henry counties, rates for other Wiregrass counties are:

» Houston, 11%.

» Covington, 10.6%.

» Barbour, 10%.

» Dale County, 9.5%.

» Coffee County, 9.5%.

Cities’ rates

Major cities with the lowest unemployment rates are Homewood at 7.1%, Vestavia Hills at 7.2%, and Madison at 8.3%. Major cities with the highest unemployment rates are Selma at 23.4%, Anniston at 22.1%, and Gadsden at 22.0%.

In the Wiregrass, Dothan’s rate is 11.5%, and Enterprise’s is 10.5%. In March, both were at 3%, according to Department of Labor data.

Matt Parker, Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce president, said the Dothan Metropolitan Statistical Area, which was at a historically low unemployment rate of 2.7% before the COVID-19 pandemic, represents the lowest unemployment rate of all such regions across Alabama in the April report.

Parker credits the diversity of the Dothan MSA’s industry and manufacturing base as the reason why it fared better than other areas of the state and the Southeast.

“In our service-producing sectors, we actually gained 200 more jobs in the wholesale trade sector,” he said. “In the service-producing sector, our biggest decline was in the leisure and hospitality area seeing a loss of 2,900 jobs. But it affirms the efforts and emphasis on this sector from the Trump administration and Congress to support this sector with the (Paycheck Protection Program).

“As a whole in our market, I really appreciate our local lending institutions and their diligent work with the PPP program and our business community as these efforts are indicative in mitigating the negative impacts attributed to COVID-19.”

Not a surprise

Gov. Kay Ivey said the rise in the unemployment is disappointing, but not surprising.

“This global pandemic and national disaster has certainly impacted Alabamians’ ability to work,” she said. “We know that hundreds of thousands of people have filed for unemployment benefits over the past two months, and we’ve been able to process and pay a great majority of those.

“We realize there are some still waiting on relief, and we hear and understand their frustration.”

Alabama Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington said: “I think everyone will agree that these numbers aren’t numbers we ever wanted to report. This pandemic has negatively impacted Alabama’s economy and in two months’ time has managed to undo years of positive progress. But the impact to our employers and workers who carry the economy is even greater. So many had life altering changes that impacted their families almost overnight.”

Wage and salary employment decreased in April by 201,700. Monthly losses were seen in the leisure and hospitality sector (-79,500), the professional and business services sector (-29,500), the education and health services sector (-26,400), and the manufacturing sector (-24,200), among others.

Over the year, wage and salary employment decreased by 199,200, with losses in the leisure and hospitality sector (-87,900), the professional and business services sector (-30,800), the education and health services sector (-25,300), and the manufacturing sector (-19,100), among others.

Average weekly wages increased to $908.52 in April, up from $883.17 in March.

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