A message from AlabamaWorks!

By Tim McCartney

There’s good reason to be pleased with Alabama’s July 2022 unemployment rate of 2.6%, which is the lowest in the Southeastern United States and the lowest in US history. ‘Alabama.

As labor market conditions approach full employment in Alabama, meeting Governor Ivey’s Success Plus postsecondary education achievement goal of adding 500,000 skilled workers to the workforce by 2025 requires to increase Alabama’s Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR), which includes all people between the ages of 16 and 64 who are employed or seeking employment.

A critical part of Governor Ivey’s economic development plan is to have an educated workforce ready to fill the thousands of new jobs that Alabama recruits each year.

The hard work is paying off, as rural Alabama counties attracted $2.3 billion in new investment and more than 3,600 jobs in 2020 and 2021. Thanks to Governor Ivey’s strategic leadership, Site Selection Magazine ranked Alabama as the best state among south-central states for workforce development in 2022.

Area development The magazine presented Alabama with its Gold Shovel Award for Economic Development Success in Manufacturing in 2020. And Alabama’s ability to overcome the complex economic development challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic has earned to the state a Top 10 ranking in Site Selection magazine’s Governor’s Cuts analysis, as well.

Data from the Alabama Department of Labor shows that in July 2022, the annual total of online job postings was 108,608 and there were 59,419 unemployed Alabamians, nearly two jobs open per Unemployed Alabamian and a 23.1% increase in open jobs since July 2021.

Alabama’s employment-to-population ratio, or the percentage of the population currently working, rebounded from the pre-pandemic level of 55.2% in March 2020 to 55.7% in July 2022.

Alabama’s peak labor market participation was 65.1% in July 1997. Alabama’s LFPR was 56.7% in April 2017 when Governor Ivey took office. Due to Governor Ivey’s emphasis on developing a no-wrong-road approach to the public workforce system, Alabama’s LFPR increased one percentage point from 56 .2% in November 2021 to 57.7% in July 2022.

In the post-COVID-19 environment, Alabama must pursue a workforce development strategy designed to engage Alabamians who have decided to stay away by not entering the workforce .

Alabamians who are not in the labor force do not intentionally avoid work. Many people face benefit cliffs when entering the labor market, which occur when means-tested benefits decline faster than an individual can compensate for their loss through gainful employment.

Providing access to education and training, coupled with human services, is one method to meet the complex needs of Alabamians who face barriers to entering the labor market.

Nationally and in Alabama, many young men are absent from the labor force. In January 1960, 97.1% of prime-age (25-54) men were in the labor force and 42.1% of prime-age (25-54) women were in the labor force. the active population. In September 2021, only 88.1% of prime-age men were in the labor force.

A 2015 report by Alan Krueger, former chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, found that opioids are likely driving prime-age workers away from the labor force.

Alabama’s workforce and economy are among the hardest hit by the opioid crisis. This increase in opioid use in Alabama was associated with a 2.6 percentage point decline in the labor force participation rate of prime-age workers in the state.

Governor Ivey established a committee of the Alabama Opioid Overdose and Addiction Council, titled the Subcommittee on Reducing the Effects of the Opioid Crisis on the Workforce, to develop workforce strategies and to reduce the effects of the opioid crisis on Alabama’s workforce participation rate.

Since the start of the COVID-10 pandemic, the Alabama Workforce Council has conducted a recurring survey in Alabama of the unemployed and underemployed, which focuses on the barriers Alabamians face when re-entering the labor market. work following the pandemic. The survey results continue to underscore the need to provide access to companion and support services, such as transportation, childcare and housing support.

According to the survey results, the lack of childcare services causes more than 20% of parents to be late for or absent from work four or more days a month. Additionally, just over half of respondents have lost a job or opportunity due to lack of reliable transportation. More than a third of respondents refused or delayed a job offer because they feared losing a government benefit.

Alabama’s strategy to increase labor force participation rates focuses on providing new training modalities, including short-term programs aligned with traditional degrees and support services, such as transportation and child care, which Alabamians need to persist in the workforce.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and Governor Ivey’s Human Capital Development Committee, chaired by Department of Human Resources Commissioner Nancy Buckner, have partnered to develop a self-sufficiency and benefits tool called Dashboard for Alabama. to Visualize Income Development (DAVID) for Alabama. This dashboard is designed to help individuals understand when they will achieve self-reliance, based on income, region, occupation, and family dynamics.

Over the next year, Governor Ivey will launch a series of technology solutions to operationalize Alabama’s strategic talent development plan. This Alabama Talent Triad consists of the Alabama Credentials Registry, which will be used to provide full transparency for every credential awarded to Alabamians and will match the credential to the skills that make up the in-demand jobs in the Alabama. Alabama.

Alabama’s Competency-Based Job Description Generator will allow employers to create custom job descriptions based on the “DNA” of the jobs in their companies.

The Alabama College Learning and Employment Record and Career Exploration Tool will allow job seekers to develop vetted resumes and connect directly to skills-based job descriptions generated by employers.

As we transition into fall and begin planning for 2023, we are not resting on our laurels.

The AWC will continue to focus solely on developing the relationships, technologies, and programs needed to augment Alabama’s LFPR.


Tim McCartney, formerly of McCartney Construction in Gadsden, is the president of the Alabama Workforce Council. To learn more about the Alabama Workforce Council, visit www.alabamaworks.com.