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Alabama jobless rate drops to 4.4%, still above 2019 level

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama’s unemployment rate dropped to 4.4% in November, a big improvement from earlier in the year when it nearly hit 13% but still above last year’s level, the state said Friday.

The preliminary, seasonally adjust rate for last month was better than October’s revised rate of 5.7% but higher than the November 2019 level of 2.7%.

The rate represented 100,537 unemployed people, according to a statement from the Alabama Department of Labor.

Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington said it was “truly great news” to see the state jobless rate below 5% after such a turbulent year. The state jobless rate in April reached 12.9%, the worst in nearly four decades.

“We’re not where we were prior to the pandemic, and it may take more time to get there, but we’re making progress,” he said. “We’ve got more people working now than at any time since the pandemic started.”

Wage and salary employment decreased by 40,800 jobs over the year, with 23,600 losses in the leisure and hospitality sector leading the decline as businesses that rely on travel and people going out were hard hit by pandemic-related closures.

Cullman County had the state’s lowest unemployment rate, 2.4%, followed by Franklin, Marshall and Shelby counties at 2.5%. Rural Wilcox County was worst in the state at 10.9%.

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