Alabama Unemployment Rate Disappoints

Alabama’s unemployment rate has dropped more than 9% since 2011 when Governor Robert Bentley took office. Bentley is looking to emphasize his impact on job growth this year. 

However, recent statistics regarding the state’s unemployment rates aren’t quite the numbers Bentley should be proud of just yet. In May,the unemployment rate was 6.8%, down just 0.1% from April, yet above May 2013’s 6.4%. According to the state, roughly 147,000 residents were actively looking for a job in May, which was surprisingly more than the number looking for work that same month only a year ago.

Alabama’s unemployment rate was unfortunately higher than the national 6.3% average. Bentley now faces the complexing question of why Alabama is doing worse this year, when last year their unemployment average was below the national average of 7.5%.

These numbers, however, are just the surface of a larger underlying problem Alabama faces. The unemployment rate is most likely inaccurate, as job seekers give up on the hunt and leave the job market altogether. Other residents may have part-time jobs, which can also skew these percentages. Others are working one or more part-time jobs because full time jobs are just too hard to find.

Part time jobs mean a less stable income and a less reliable workforce for many companies, especially in the sales industry. Studies have shown that as many as 35% to 45% of sales reps fail to meet their target sales goals. In addition, the turnover rate for the sales profession is over 26%.

With less people working in the state than last year, this should be a major red flag for Bentley that something needs to be done — they are behind every other state when it comes to unemployment rates. Unemployment decreased in 20 states, while it increased in 16 states and remained the same in 14 states and the District of Columbia.

Many Alabama residents claim that their state government is not doing enough to improve the situation. Successful reform efforts need to be implemented to get the state’s economy back on it’s feet. Strategies such as wage subsidies for displaced workers, better job training programs to obtain more skilled labor, and even having the state hire workers are some ideas. 

Other calls for reform include taxing residents and businesses fairly in order for the state to pay for better education systems to create a skilled and competitive workforce in the future, which will eventually leave to economic growth. For the Alabama residents, a second term for Bentley needs to focus on addressing the unemployment issue, which keeps getting pushed off or handed off to the next governor.