MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama’s monthly unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.1%, holding steady for the fifth straight month.

The state says the December rate was below the level of a year before, 4.7%. And it was better than the national jobless rate of 3.9%.

Total weekly wages from private employers were $973.14 for the month, representing a yearly hike of $26.65.

Over the year, wage and salary employment increased 48,400, with gains in the trade, transportation, and utility sector (+11,700), the leisure and hospitality sector (+11,000), and the manufacturing sector (+8,800), among others.

Wiregrass Counties unemployment rates are:

Coffee County: 2.3%

Dale County: 2.6%

Geneva County: 2.3%

Houston County: 2.5%

Henry County: 2.6%

Total private weekly wages were $973.41 in December, representing a $26.65 yearly increase. Manufacturing weekly wages were $1,258.17, representing an $85.17 yearly increase. In the Professional & Business Services sector, a new record high weekly wage was recorded at $1,245.05, and the Leisure & Hospitality sector also saw a new record high weekly wage at $412.25, an increase of $57.94 over the year.

Over the month, 65 of 67 counties saw their unemployment rate decrease or remain the same in December. All 67 counties saw the unemployment rate decrease over the year.

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates are Shelby and Cullman Counties at 1.8%, Marshall and Blount Counties at 1.9%, and Limestone, Dekalb, Clay, and Cherokee Counties at 2.0%. Counties with the highest unemployment rates are Wilcox County at 10.3%, Lowndes County at 8.4%, and Perry County at 7.2%.

Major cities with the lowest unemployment rates are: Athens at 1.4%, Alabaster at 1.7%, and Homewood, Madison, and Vestavia Hills at 1.8%. Major cities with the highest unemployment rates are: Selma at 8.1%, Prichard at 6.9%, and Anniston at 5.1%.

Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington says most of the challenges facing the state workforce were related to the COVID-19 pandemic. He says an additional 7,000 people were employed compared to the month before.