Alabama's unemployment rate fell sharply to 7.5 percent in November, a drop officials say was helped by holiday hiring.
The state Department of Labor said Friday the number represents 162,182 people who were jobless last month.
The state's unemployment rate was below the national rate of 7.7 percent, and it's down six-tenths of a percent from October.
The rate of 7.5 percent is also well below the year-ago rate of 8.3 percent.
Labor Commissioner Tom Surtees says the numbers show Alabama employers are expecting a strong holiday shopping season. He says the increase in retail hiring created jobs that may not have been there otherwise.
Shelby County has the state's lowest jobless rate at 4.6 percent, while Wilcox County is highest at 15.9 percent.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.