ADOL: Covington County’s unemployment rate edges upward again in December

Published 9:15 am Sunday, January 21, 2024

Covington County saw another increase to its unemployment rate during the month of December, according to the latest update from the Alabama Department of Labor.

After a slight increase in November, Covington County saw a bigger increase for December, moving to 3 percent, which is up from November’s rate of 2.7 percent. The seasonally-adjusted unemployment number is up even higher when compared to December 2022 when the rate was 2.4 percent.

Alabama’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted December unemployment rate is 2.6 percent, up from November’s rate of 2.4 percent. December’s rate is equal to December 2022’s rate of 2.6 percent. The rate represents 59,454 unemployed persons, compared to 55,462 in November and 59,986 in December 2022.

Neighboring counties mostly saw similar increases with the exception of Conecuh County where the rate fell from 3.9 percent to 3.8. Butler County’s rate increased from 2.7 to 2.9 percent; Coffee County’s rate increased from 2.6 to 2.8 percent; Crenshaw County’s rate increased from 2.7 to 3 percent; Escambia County’s rate increased from 3 percent to 3.4; and Geneva County’s rate increased from 2.3 to 2.6 percent.

Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington said that Alabama’s labor force participation rate for December increased to 57.2 percent. The percentage of prime-age workers increased by four-tenths of a percentage point to 78.5 percent over the year. Prime-age workers are those aged 25-54 years.

“As we continue to see growth in our labor force participation rate, with our prime-age worker participation rate increasing by nearly a half of a percentage point over the year, we will continue our efforts to reach more of underutilized workforce populations,” said Washington. “We know that the labor force participation rate for the state is tied to its demographic population, so we must work together to encourage those who traditionally may not be heavily recruited by employers to work with us to get them in the workforce.”

The number of people counted as employed increased by 40,194 over the year to a record high of 2,264,098. The civilian labor force also increased to a new record high of 2,323,552, with 39,662 more people joining over the year.

Over the year, wage and salary employment increased by 38,100, reaching a new record high of 2,184,500, with gains in the private education and health services sector (+10,700), the government sector (+6,900), and the trade, transportation, and utilities sector (+4,600), among others.

Wage and salary employment increased in December by 300. Monthly gains were seen in the trade, transportation, and utilities sector (+3,600), the manufacturing sector (+2,800), and the financial activities sector (+1,300), among others.

“It’s always exciting to be able to announce that our weekly wages have reached a new record high,” continued Washington. “Two industries continue to stand out with their growth, the construction and the trade, transportation, and utilities industries. This month they reached new record highs, and the trade, transportation, and utilities industry also saw a new record high employment level.”

The total private average weekly wage increased in December by $32.08 over the year to a new record high of $1,035.00. Average weekly wages in both the construction and trade, transportation, and utilities sectors reached new record highs, with construction wages increasing by $113.92 per week (over the year) and trade, transportation, and utilities wages increasing by $21.44 weekly (over the year).

The trade, transportation, and utilities sector and the financial activities sector saw record high employment in December.

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates are: Shelby County at 1.9 percent, Morgan, Marshall, and Cullman counties at 2.1, and Madison, Limestone, Elmore, Chilton, and Autauga Counties at 2.2 percent.

Counties with the highest unemployment rates are: Wilcox County at 9.3 percent, Greene County at 6.3, and Dallas County at 5.8 percent.

Major cities with the lowest unemployment rates are: Vestavia Hills at 1.7 percent, Alabaster, Homewood, and Madison at 1.8 percent, and Hoover, Northport, and Trussville at 1.9.

Major cities with the highest unemployment rates are: Selma at 7.2 percent, Prichard at 5.5, and Bessemer at 4.3 percent.