Last year wrapped up with record employment and job counts, according to one of the last reports for 2018 released by the Alabama Department of Labor (ADOL). In November 2018, 2.1 million people in the state were counted as employed, an increase of 46,330 from November 2017. Wage and salary employment, which measures the number of jobs Alabama’s economy is supporting, grew to just over 2 million, representing a yearly increase of 35,400 jobs. 

“Business is booming in Alabama,” Alabama Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington said. “We are continuing to shatter employment records month after month. Jobs are growing at a record 1.7 percent yearly growth rate.”

Wage and salary employment grew by 1.7 percent from November 2017 to November 2018, tying with October 2018 and July 2015 for the largest year-over-year percentage growth in state history. 

During 2018, wage and salary employment increased 35,400, with gains in the professional and business services sector (+11,900), the manufacturing sector (+10,200) and the education and health services sector (+3,200), among others.

Wage and salary employment increased in November by 6,400 workers. Monthly noteworthy gains were seen in the trade, transportation and utilities sector (+6,000), the education and health services sector (+1,700) and the government sector (+1,200). 

Alabama’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for November 2018 is 4.0 percent, down from October’s rate of 4.1 percent and above the November 2017 rate of 3.8 percent. November’s rate represents 87,757 unemployed residents, compared to 89,745 in October and 81,970 in November 2017.

“Average weekly earnings continue to increase, with workers seeing an additional $34.76 per week in their paychecks,” Washington said. “Those working in the manufacturing sector also saw an increase in their earnings, with manufacturing weekly earnings at their highest level in history.”

Total private average weekly earnings increased to $838.89, up from $804.13 in November 2017, an increase of $34.76. This represents the second-highest level in state history, surpassed only by September 2018’s average weekly wages of $849.89.

Manufacturing earnings also rose to their highest level in history, to $1,062.18 per week. 

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates last year were: Shelby County at 2.5 percent; Marshall, Madison and Cullman counties at 2.9 percent; and Morgan, Limestone and Elmore counties at 3.0 percent. Counties with the highest unemployment rates are: Wilcox County at 7.9 percent; Clarke County at 6.4 percent; and Dallas and Lowndes counties at 5.8 percent.

Major cities with the lowest unemployment rates are: Homewood and Vestavia Hills at 2.3 percent; Alabaster at 2.4 percent; and Northport, Madison and Hoover at 2.5 percent. Major cities with the highest unemployment rates are: Selma at 6.5 percent; Prichard at 6.1 percent; and Anniston at 4.7 percent.

CREED reports key economic indicators

According to Dr. Reid Cummings, director for the Center of Real Estate and Economic Development (CREED) at the University of South Alabama, many local leaders on both sides of Mobile Bay have started to pay more attention to the importance of Baldwin and Mobile counties working together on matters affecting the entire region from an economic perspective.

“Many of our leaders on both sides of Mobile Bay recognized the importance of Baldwin and Mobile counties working together on matters that affect the entire region,” Cummings said. “Working for federal and state policy decisions that positively impact regional transportation systems, pursuing regional economic development efforts and promoting area natural resource and environmental awareness are just a few examples.”

For 2018, Cummings identified key data points focused on the combined Mobile and Baldwin county regional economy that showed significant growth, using forward- and backward-looking five-year spans as benchmarks in some comparisons.

Here are the findings: 

• From 2013 to 2018, the region’s population grew by 3.6 percent to 630,806.

• Population growth over the next five years is expected to continue, but at a slower 2.5 percent rate.

• There are 120,429 millennials in the region, only slightly fewer than the national average for comparably sized areas.

• Within the region, 31.4 percent of the population have a high school diploma, 22.1 percent have completed some college coursework and 33.2 percent have an associate degree or higher.

• From 2013 to 2018, the total number of jobs increased by 4.7 percent to 275,210.

• The regional labor force participation rate also increased slightly over the same period, from 55.8 percent to 56.2 percent.

• In 2013, the region’s unemployment rate was 7.94 percent; currently, it is 4.8 percent.

• The area’s top five industries — employing 60 percent of all workers — are government (38,649 jobs), retail trade (34,913 jobs), health care and social assistance (33,853 jobs), accommodation and food services (30,238 jobs) and manufacturing (23,482 jobs).

• The area’s top five occupations — accounting for 50 percent of all occupations — are office and administrative support (40,072 jobs), sales (32,908 jobs), food preparation and serving (27,272), transportation and material moving (18,897 jobs) and health care (18,039 jobs).

More information about the study can be found at:

Austal USA receives $21M order

At year’s end, The U.S. Department of Defense recently awarded Mobile-based Austal USA a $21 million order against a previously awarded Basic Ordering Agreement to accomplish the Post Shakedown Availability (PSA) execution for the Littoral Combat Ship USS Manchester (LCS 14).

This effort encompasses all of the manpower, support services, material, nonstandard equipment and associated technical data and documentation required to prepare for and accomplish the USS Manchester (LCS 14) PSA.

The work performed will include correction of government-responsible trial card deficiencies, new work identified between custody transfer and incorporation of approved engineering changes that were not done during the construction period.

“This order directly supports our growth strategy in the service business in San Diego and Mobile as we continue to support an ever-growing fleet of small surface combatants,” Austal USA President Craig Perciavalle said.

With nine ships delivered, five under construction and five more under contract, Austal USA has become a significant contributor in the U.S. Navy’s plan for a 355-ship fleet.