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New data shows Alabama has more jobs than workers

Published: Nov. 16, 2021 at 8:23 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Alabama continues to face a labor shortage with more jobs available than there are people looking for work.

That’s according to a Stateline analysis of federal statistics from August.

So, why is it so hard to fill these positions?

New data shows Alabama has more than two jobs for every one person without a job in the state

The Alabama Department of Labor said the worker shortage is the worst among industries where pay is low and direct contact with the public is high.

The transportation, retail, food service, hospitality, and nursing industries have the most job openings in our state right now.

Assistant Professor of Economics at UAB, Ben Meadows, said we are in some wild economic times.

He says demand is high for nearly everything…but we have a sluggish response in the labor force.

Meadows said the pool of available workers has been drying up in Alabama for some time, but the bottom fell out once the pandemic hit.

He said it’s unclear why there are so many job openings in our state, and you can no longer point to unemployment insurance as the reason because those benefits stopped in July.

“And this is where we have to be careful. We don’t actually know why. So, is it, you know, folks who are on the edge of retirement and they’re just saying like, ‘What’s the point?’ We don’t know. Are there folks who have transitions to a single-earner household, right? Because the pandemic reshuffled a lot of things…childcare, work, all these kinds of things. So, did families reoptimize and say, ‘Well, we’ve already got one person at home now, so that person won’t reenter the labor force because we’ve kind of reoptimized our home.’ That’s a possibility,” Meadows explained.

Tara Hutchison with ADOL said many within the labor force are unskilled to perform the jobs that are available right now, and in some cases, there are spatial mismatches, which means people can’t get to where the jobs are.

Hutchison said ADOL has a number of programs available, many of which are free, to help people with their resumes, interviewing skills, job training, and more.

For more information, visit the Alabama Department of Labor’s website at https://labor.alabama.gov/.

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