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Alabama labor force participation rate unchanged; Valley jobless rate low

MONTGOMERY – The state’s labor force participation rate for January remained unchanged and several counties in North Alabama are driving the numbers.

According to the latest report from the state Department of Labor, the participation rate was 57.4%, last month. The department cited an increase in the number of prime-age workers joining the labor market to boost the overall rate.

The percentage of workers aged 25-54 years old increased by 0.1% to 78.6% over the month, the department said. Over the year, this number increased nearly an entire percentage point from 77.7%.

“We are continuing to see those prime-age workers growing in our labor force,” said Labor Secretary Fitzgerald  Washington. “More than three out of every four prime-age workers are holding down a job. This growth will contribute to the overall health of Alabama’s economy.”

Alabama’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 2.9%, up slightly from December 2023’s revised rate of 2.8%. January’s rate is above January 2023’s rate of 2.4%. The rate represents 66,591 unemployed people, compared to 64,101 in December 2023 and 53,887 in January 2023.

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates are:  Shelby County at 2.5%; Morgan County at 2.6%; and Marshall, Limestone, Cullman, and Autauga counties at 2.7%.

Among the state’s larger cities, Madison is third with a 2.3% unemployment rate, trailing Homewood (2.0%) and Vestavia Hills (2.1%).

The unemployment rates for the larger cities in North Alabama are Athens, 2.7%; Decatur, 2.7%; Florence, 3.4%; and Huntsville, 3.0%.

The number of people counted as employed increased by 31,157 over the year to 2,261,270. The civilian labor force also increased to 2,327,861, with 43,861 more people joining over the year.

Over the year, wage and salary employment increased by 38,300 to 2,166,500, with gains in the government sector (+10,400), the private education and health services sector (+9,100), and the manufacturing sector (+5,500), among others.

“We saw over the year job growth of more than 38,000,” said Washington. “This means that employers are continuing to create new jobs and are filling those positions with hard working Alabamians.

“We look forward to more positive growth during 2024.”

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