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Alabama’s unemployment and labor participation rates both up slightly in April

Alabama’s unemployment rate ticked up slightly in April to 3.1%, but its labor force participation rate also increased by one-tenth of a percentage point to 57.5%.

That latter number has become the one state leaders are watching as they try to get more Alabamians in the workforce.

The percentage of prime-age workers, those ages 25 to 54, increased by two-tenths of a percentage point over the month to 79.1%, Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington said in a written statement today. Over the year, this number increased from 77.4%.

“This continued growth in our prime age labor force participation rate is truly encouraging,” Washington said. “The over the year growth is showing that our prime age workers are indeed rejoining the labor force and making an impact. Additionally, our total labor force has increased to its highest level, with more than 40,000 people deciding that they want a job since the same time last year.”

The 3.1% unemployment rate, those actively looking for work, compares to 3% in March and 2.3% in April 2023.  It represents 72,057 unemployed people, compared to 70,884 in March and 52,004 in April 2023.

Wage and salary employment increased by 49,700 to 2,203,800 in the last year. This represents a new record high for Alabama’s jobs count, according to Labor. Some of the largest gains have been in the private education and health services, government and manufacturing sectors.

“Alabama’s employers are creating jobs,” Washington said. “Our economy is supporting more jobs than ever before. We are all working together to ensure that we have the workforce to fill them.”

Alabama’s workforce participation rate is below the national average and Gov. Kay Ivey last week signed into law a package of bills dubbed “Working for Alabama.” They include  initiatives officials hope will improve that labor participation rate.

Among the most notable inclusions in the package include a child care tax credit program that would offset tax liabilities for child care providers and employers who invest in expanding child care, capped at $15 million for its first year and topping out at $20 million in 2027.

A housing tax credit program is included in the package as well, which will provide $5 million in tax credits a year for eligible housing projects. The Alabama Workforce Pathways Act is another inclusion, and will provide high school students an alternative pathway to earning a diploma with a focus on career tech.

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates in April were:  Shelby, 2%; Morgan, 2.1%; and Cullman, Elmore, Madison and Marshall, 2.2%.

Major cities with the lowest unemployment rates were: Homewood, 1.8%; Alabaster, Madison, Trussville and Vestavia Hills, 1.9%; and Hoover, 2%.

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