County's jobless claims on the rise


Walker County's unemployment rate dropped in February from 3.9 percent to 3.3 percent - but it is the last monthly statistics that will come out without any effect from the COVID-19 pandemic that has caused a deluge of unemployment claims in March.

The Alabama Department of Labor said in a release Friday that the seasonally adjusted state jobless rate was unchanged in February at 2.7 percent, which is a record law and well below February 2019's rate of 3.5 percent.

However, near the bottom of the release it said, "*NOTE: February’s data will NOT reflect any COVID-19 related layoffs or shutdowns." Unlike prior monthly releases, no statements were made by Gov. Kay Ivey nor Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington, both of whom usually issue glowing statements about the economy.

The spread of the virus and the shutting of businesses across the nation is expected to impact the state and county's run of low unemployment figures. But in February, all 67 counties experienced over-the-year rate declines - Walker County's rate a year earlier had been 4.2 percent - and 65 counties saw a drop from the previous month's rate.

The seasonally adjusted national unemployment rate in February declined from 3.6 percent to 3.5 percent; it had been 3.8 percent in February 2019.

Walker County in February had an estimated 831 people unemployed, down from 974 in January. It had a total estimated civilian labor force of 25,163 in February.
Rates for surrounding counties in February include Winston, 3.3 percent (down from 3.8 percent), Tuscaloosa, 2.4 percent (down from 2.8 percent); Marion, 4 percent (3.9 percent); Jefferson, 2.7 percent (3 percent); Fayette, 3 percent (down from 3.5 percent); Cullman, 2.5 percent (down from 2.8 percent); and Blount, 2.6 percent (down from 3 percent).

Marion County had the 13th highest unemployment out of 67 counties, and was one of only 13 counties with unemployment at 4 percent or higher. Walker County was 27th highest, followed by Winston at 28th and Fayette at 36th. Tuscaloosa was third lowest, and Cullman was ninth lowest. Blount was 13th lowest, followed by Jefferson County at 16th lowest. The lowest in the state in February was Shelby County at 2.1 percent and the highest was Wilcox County at 8.5 percent, followed by Clarke County at 5.6 percent.

In the annual averages for 2019, Walker County had the 31st highest ranking, while Winston County was 32nd; both stood at 3.3 percent. Marion County was 25th highest at 3.4 percent. Fayette County was 36th at 3.1 percent. Cullman was seventh lowest at 2.6 percent, while Tuscaloosa was eighth lowest at 2.7 percent and Blount was 12th lowest at 2.7 percent. Jefferson was 19th lowest at 2.9 percent. All but 12 counties had rates for 2019 below 4 percent, with the highest being Wilcox at 7.1 percent and Shelby at 2.2 percent. A total of 23 counties had rates below 3 percent.