It’s still too high for comfort, as about 190,000 Alabamians are still out of work. But there is good news in the report. (PDF)
MONTGOMERY -- Alabama Department of Industrial Relations Director Tom Surtees announced today that Alabama’s August unemployment rate dropped to 9.2%, down from 9.7% recorded in July. The comparable rate for August 2009 was 10.6%.
“Today’s news is certainly good news,” said Surtees. “This marks the first time in nearly two years that Alabama’s unemployment rate has been below the national average. That is most definitely a sign that Alabama’s economy is slowly but surely recovering from this economic recession.”
The national unemployment rate for August 2010 is 9.6%. The last time Alabama’s unemployment rate was below the national average was November of 2008, when our rate was 6.7%, compared to the national rate of 6.9%.
Alabama was fairly late “joining” the recession due to a strong manufacturing sector (automobiles, steel, chemicals) and a strong recreational and leisure services sector in the southern portion of the state. Manufacturing remains strong, but the Gulf Oil Spill hammered tourism in Mobile and Baldwin counties, wiping out the 2010 season. Had those areas seen normal activity through the 2010 summer season, the unemployment rate would likely have dropped even further for each of the last four months.
Let’s hope the positive trend continues and is evident in the neighboring states of Mississippi, Georgia and Florida. These are right-to-work states with good regulatory environments and low overhead costs. Expansion in the southeast means a healthier, freer economy nationally.