New Current Population Survey Finds Alabama’s Unemployment Rate Remained Unchanged in February

Gov. Robert Bentley recently announced some good news for Alabama’s economy, but there’s still much work left to be done before the Yellowhammer State returns to the prosperity it enjoyed prior to the Great Recession.

According to the Cherokee County Herald, a new Current Population Survey (CPS) has found that Alabama’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for Feb. 2016 was 6.2%. This essentially means that employment has plateaued throughout the state, but Gov. Bentley was optimistic when announcing the statistics on Friday.

“The momentum that we are seeing in our employment numbers continues to be encouraging,” Gov. Bentley said. “Our mission to provide all Alabamians with a job remains my top priority.”

Fitzgerald Washington, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Labor, echoed many of the governor’s sentiments. He maintains that the stagnant rate of unemployment in Alabama is actually a positive sign for the state’s economy moving forward.

“No change in the unemployment rate is good news this month,” said Washington. “We continue to see high numbers of employed people, which again is topping two million. We have consistently seen over two million employed people for 21 straight months.”

About 22% of new hires leave their jobs within 45 days of being hired, but it seems as if most workers in Alabama have been content with their employment situation for the past several years. The CPS survey found that there were 2,033,386 employed Alabamians in February, which is the highest total since there were 2,042,834 state workers in Aug. 2008.

Commissioner Washington was also quite bullish about the expansion of full-time employment and wage growth throughout the state.

“Wage and salary employment continues to show growth as well,” Washington added. “Like January, this is our best February since 2008, with a job growth percentage of 1.25 percent — the second highest growth percentage of the last five years.”

Despite these glowing reviews from Gov. Bentley and Commissioner Washington, U.S. News and World Report recently reported that Alabama, in addition to many other states, is still well behind the job totals they boasted before the Great Recession began.

Alabama’s job total still trails its pre-recession level by 2.7%, marking the second biggest decline among all 50 U.S. states. Wyoming, which currently has 3% fewer jobs than in 2007, carries the dubious distinction of leading all states in this category.

So, while Alabama’s job market has not suffered any setbacks yet in 2016, the triumphant remarks made by Gov. Bentley and Commissioner Washington should be taken with a grain of salt.