MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama's monthly unemployment rate jumped to 6.6% in September as the coronavirus pandemic kept up its continuing damage to the state's economy, the government reported Friday.
The rate was a full percentage point above the August jobless rate and even worse when compared to the pre-coronavirus rate of 2.7% a year earlier.
The state's labor secretary, Fitzgerald Washington, said fluctuations in the unemployment rate will likely continue during the pandemic, which is blamed for nearly 2,800 deaths in the state from COVID-19, the illness caused by the new virus.
"In September, we saw fewer people entering the labor force, fewer people working, and more who were counted as unemployed," he said in a statement. "All of those factors will increase the unemployment rate. We will continue to work with employers and the unemployed to put Alabamians back to work."
The September rate represented 148,912 people without jobs, an increase of about 23,000 from a month earlier.
"We did see an increase in the number of jobs the economy is supporting, with a gain of a little more than 9,000," said Washington. "We hope to see hiring pick up over the next couple of months as we approach the holiday season."
Cullman County, located north of Birmingham, had the state's lowest jobless rate at 3.8%, with Franklin, Marshall and Randolph counties close behind. Rural Wilcox County in west Alabama was worst at 17%.