TALLADEGA -- Unemployment ticked up slightly in Talladega and St. Clair counties from November to December, according to figures released Friday by the Alabama Department of Labor. However, that same report showed the number of people working in both counties grew from the end of 2017 to the end of 2018.
Talladega County’s preliminary December jobless rate was 3.8 percent, up from the November revised rate of 3.6. The December 2017 revised rate was also 3.8.
It was a similar story in St. Clair, where the December preliminary unemployment rate was 3.2 percent, up from revised rates for November 2018 and December 2017, both of which were 3.1.
For the year as a whole, however, both counties saw the number of employed people and their civilian labor forces grow.
In St. Clair County, the number of individuals with jobs for December was 38,339, up from December 2017’s mark of 37,458. Talladega County reported 34,234 employed persons for December, up from 32,955 in December 2017.
Talladega County’s civilian labor force, calculated by adding the number of people employed with the number of people actively seeking jobs, was 35,589 for December, an increase of 1,339 over December 2017. St. Clair County’s civilian labor force for December was 39,600, an increase of 951 from the final month of 2017.
State sets record
Alabama experienced a job growth rate of 2.2 percent from December 2017 to December 2018, the largest over-the-year percentage growth on record, according to the Department of Labor.
That growth represents an increase of 44,300 jobs.
“We are ending 2018 with great economic news all around,” Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington said in a press release. “To see this kind of record job growth is extraordinary.
“Alabama employers have added nearly 45,000 jobs over the past year – economists predicted that our economy would grow by 27,000 jobs. I’m happy to say that we more than exceeded their predictions.”
Nationally, the U.S. recorded an over-the-year job growth rate of 1.8 percent.
Alabama’s wage and salary employment again reached a record high for the fourth consecutive month, measuring 2,072,600 in December. Over the year, wage and salary employment increased 44,300, with gains in the professional and business services sector (plus-12,600), the manufacturing sector (plus-11,300) and the government sector (plus-5,000), among others.
Monthly gains were seen in the manufacturing sector (plus-3,000), the trade, transportation and utilities sector (plus-1,300), and the education and health services sector (plus-900), among others.
Average weekly earnings in Alabama reached their highest level ever in December, measuring $857.77. Earnings in four subsectors also reached record highs: goods producing saw average weekly earnings of $1,054.16, manufacturing measured $1,074.33, financial activities measured $1,097.26 and professional and business services measured $1,081.61.
Alabama’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted unemployment December rate was 3.9 percent, down from November’s rate of 4.0 and slightly above December 2017’s rate of 3.8.
Counties with the lowest unemployment rates were Shelby at 2.5 percent, Cullman at 2.9 and Marshall, Madison, Limestone and Elmore at 3.0. Counties with the highest unemployment rates are Wilcox at 8.7, Clarke at 7.1 and Dallas at 6.6.
Major cities with the lowest unemployment rates are Homewood and Vestavia Hills at 2.3 percent; Alabaster, Hoover, Madison and Northport at 2.5; and Daphne at 2.9. Major cities with the highest unemployment rates are Selma at 7.9, Prichard at 6.3 and Bessemer at 4.8.