MONTGOMERY, Alabama — Alabama's unemployment rate dropped slightly last month as state employment expanded to the highest level since the beginning of the recession almost seven years ago, officials said Friday.
Gov. Robert Bentley's office said the state's seasonally adjusted jobless rate for October was 5.9 percent, compared with 6 percent in September. Last month's rate also was below the jobless rate from a year ago by two-tenths of a percent.
Employment increased by 7,200 jobs, with more than half the gain coming in the government sector. There were also increases in the professional and business services area, plus the trade and transportation sector.
Total wage and salary employment in the state now stands at 1.97 million jobs. That's the highest since November 2008, at the outset of the recession, said Labor Commissioner Fitzgerald Washington.
"Not only are we seeing the highest wage and salary employment numbers of the year, we've also surpassed 2015 growth expectation by nearly 8,000 jobs," Washington said in a statement.
Washington said the state has added 41,700 jobs so far this year compared with economists' forecast of 33,800 positions.
Alabama is still well above the national unemployment rate of 5 percent, but the improvement in Alabama followed a national trend. Unemployment rates fell in 32 U.S. states last month as employers nationwide added the most jobs of any month this year.
Wilcox County had Alabama's highest unemployment rate at 13.3 percent. Shelby County is lowest at 4 percent.