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Unemployment down in city, county

Fewer people are out of work in Selma and Dallas County, according to the most recent monthly figures distributed by the Alabama Department of Labor (ADOL).

According to the most recent report, the August unemployment rate in Selma was 12.9 percent, a nearly five-point improvement over July’s rate of 17.9 percent.

Still, the rate is significantly higher than the 6.8 percent seen during the same period last year.

Dallas County, meanwhile, saw an August unemployment rate of 10.7 percent, a nearly four-point improvement over July’s rate of 14.6 percent but still well above August 2019’s rate of 5.8 percent.

Both the city and the county, however, remain well above the statewide unemployment rate of 5.6 percent, which represents more than 127,000 unemployed Alabamians.

“The drop in the unemployment rate is certainly good news for Alabama,” said Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey in an ADOL press release. “We have worked extremely hard to open Alabama’s businesses safely, and to put our hard-working families back to work.  We know that challenges remain, and we will endeavor to meet them so that we can get back to our previous, pre-pandemic record-setting employment numbers.”

ADOL Secretary Fitzgerald Washington was likewise enthusiastic about the latest numbers.

“August showed a larger drop in the unemployment rate than we’ve seen for a few months,” Washington said in the release. “We are continuing to see our initial claims drop, staying under 10,000 for the past several weeks. We regained another 22,200 jobs this month but are still down more than 86,000 from this time last year. One highlight is that our civilian labor force, or the number of people who are working or actively looking for work, is at its highest level ever. This means that people are confident that jobs are there for them to find.”

Despite the improvements, weekly claims ticked up in Dallas County during the week of Sept. 12 – 94 initial claims were filed that week as compared to 87 the week before.

While the same industries and counties continue to take the brunt of economic impact week to week, ADOL was celebrating record-high weekly earnings growth in a number of industries, which in total has risen by more than $90 since last year.

Monthly employment gains were seen in the government sector, which added over 9,600 jobs last month, the professional and business services sector, which added more than 7,100 jobs, and others.

Black Belt counties again topped the department’s list of counties suffering the highest rates of unemployment last month – Wilcox County, at 14.8 percent, Lowndes County, at 13.8 percent, and Greene County, at 10.9 percent.

Straddling Selma on the department’s list of major cities with the state’s highest unemployment rates were Prichard, at 15.4 percent, and Bessemer, at 10.7 percent.