MONTGOMERY - Alabama is home to five of the nation's top 10 metropolitan areas with the biggest declines in unemployment over the past 12 months.
A report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the Alabama cities are among those with the biggest drop in unemployment out of 372 metro areas in the past year.
The Florence-Muscle Shoals area had the second largest drop in unemployment in the entire nation. Decatur showed the fifth largest decrease, Anniston and Gadsden tied for having the eighth largest decrease, and Tuscaloosa recorded the 10th largest decrease in unemployment in the U.S.
"Alabama right now is leading the nation when it comes to reducing unemployment," said Governor Riley. "No other state has seen a bigger drop in its jobless rate over the past year, and of the 10 American cities that have seen the largest declines in unemployment, five of the top 10 are in our state. It's certainly a positive sign that Alabama is headed in the right direction."
The report covers August 2009 to August 2010, the most recent unemployment figures that have been released. During that time, the Florence-Muscle Shoals area saw its unemployment rate drop by 2.3 percent. Only the Elkhart-Goshen, Indiana metro area had a larger decrease at 3.5 percent.
Decatur recorded a 1.9 percent decrease in unemployment. Anniston-Oxford and Gadsden areas both showed a decrease of 1.8 percent. Tuscaloosa rounded out the nation's top 10 with a 1.7 percent decrease.
Overall, Alabama's unemployment rate declined by 1.4 percent during the 12-month period.
Alabama's other metropolitan areas all recorded lower unemployment rates, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. Out of 372 metropolitan areas in the report:
The Birmingham-Hoover area had the nation's 13th largest drop in unemployment, down 1.6 percent. Dothan recorded the nation's 21st largest decline with a drop of 1.4 percent in unemployment. Mobile and Montgomery tied for the 32nd largest drop at 1.2 percent. The Auburn-Opelika metro area recorded the 38th largest decline at 1.1 percent, and Huntsville had the nation's 54th largest decline with a drop of 0.9 percent over the 12 month period.
"Before the national recession hit, Alabama consistently had one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. We still have a ways to go, but there's no doubt the economy in Alabama is recovering. During the past few months, we've seen new economic announcements and industry expansions all over the state," said Governor Riley.
Among several of those recent announcements are:
- Hyundai Heavy Industries building a large transformer facility in Montgomery, creating 1,000 new jobs
- Raytheon Missile Systems building a missile production and testing facility in Huntsville and creating 300 new jobs
- Fehrer Automotive opening its automotive supplier plant in Gadsden and announcing employment between 160-175 workers at full production
- GE Aviation creating an environmental coatings facility for advanced military jet engine components in a to-be-announced city in Alabama that will create more than 300 new jobs
- Viper Motorcycle Company moving its headquarters and production facility from Minnesota to Auburn, resulting in 100 announced new jobs
- Lakeside Steel, Inc. building a pipe manufacturing facility in Thomasville, with an initial workforce of 120
- Valve manufacturer Cash Acme building a new facility in Cullman and creating 100 new jobs
- North American Lighting expanding its operation in Muscle Shoals and add almost 100 new jobs
"Over the last year we've seen more economic activity, more new jobs and more industry expansions. Now we've got to maintain that momentum," Governor Riley said.
ON THE WEB: To view the entire chart ranking all 372 metropolitan areas, visit http://www.bls.gov/web/metro/laummtch.htm