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Unemployment up sharply across state, in local area

Unemployment in Alabama for April 2020

A graphic from the Alabama Department of Labor showing unemployment in Alabama in April 2020. 

ANNISTON -- Unemployment skyrocketed to 12.9 percent in Alabama in April, according to figures released Friday morning by the Alabama Department of Labor.

In Talladega County, the preliminary April jobless rate was 19.9 percent, up from 3.4 percent in March and 3.0 percent in April 2019. In St. Clair County, the preliminary April unemployment rate was 13.2 percent, an increase from 2.6 percent in March and 2.4 percent in April 2019.

Anniston had the second-highest unemployment rate among the state's largest cities, at 22.1 percent. Calhoun County’s unemployment rate was 18.4 percent.

"While we are certainly disappointed to see our unemployment rate rise so sharply this month, it's not surprising," Gov. Kay Ivey was quoted as saying in a press release from the Labor Department

The numbers are a snapshot of the economy as it appeared one month ago, but they're the first official calculation of the state's pandemic-era unemployment rate —  and they show how far the state's economy plummeted, and how fast. 

The state's March unemployment rate was 3.0 percent, an impressive low even by pre-pandemic standards. State officials calculated that rate based on jobless claims on March 12, in keeping with their practice of using a mid-month snapshot of the economy.

One day later, March 13, Ivey announced school closures and limits on medical procedures and service in restaurants, all intended to stop the spread of COVID-19. 

Ivey in a press conference Thursday said more than 500,000 have filed jobless claims since mid-March. The April numbers show only a portion of that economic decline. Only 290,000 people were on the unemployment rolls when the April numbers were calculated. 

Capitol & statewide reporter Tim Lockette: 256-294-4193. On Twitter @TLockette_Star.