Alabama’s jobless rate dips to 3% but some issues persist

Alabama’s unemployment rate dipped slightly to 3% as the number of people employed in the state...
Alabama’s unemployment rate dipped slightly to 3% as the number of people employed in the state reached its highest point in more than two years. But there's a reason why you still see “now hiring” signs everywhere.(Source: MGN)
Published: Mar. 25, 2022 at 11:36 AM CDT|Updated: Mar. 25, 2022 at 6:18 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - After sitting at 3.1% for the past five months, Alabama’s unemployment rate has dropped slightly to 3%. It’s a small difference, but the Alabama Department of Labor sees it as a good sign.

“Even though it’s just a tenth of a percentage point at 3%, that’s still, that’s still progress,” said ADOL’s Tara Hutchison.

Not only is the unemployment rate on the decline, but 3% is lower than it was February 2020, just before the pandemic started in Alabama.

“The unemployment rate is counting people, and the wage and salary count is counting actual jobs,” explained Hutchison.

Hutchison says there’s an increase in the number of jobs and in the number of people able to work, which is why the unemployment rate is lower. But the reason you still see “now hiring” signs is because the labor shortage that existed before the pandemic is still here.

“So, the pandemic has only exacerbated that that problem,” said Hutchison. “A lot of people like to think that because we are experiencing recovery, and we are, that those pre-existing problems should just fade away, but they’re not.”

One part of the problem involves spatial issues.

“All the jobs may be available in Huntsville, but the people who need jobs are in south Alabama,” Hutchison said. “That creates a spatial disparity. So are the people from south Alabama going to move to Huntsville for those jobs and vice versa?”

Hutchison says it’ll take different state agencies and even the legislature working together to ensure the unemployment rate continues to drop.

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