After a recent tour of the Austal USA shipyard on Monday, Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey remains optimistic about the unemployment outlook in Alabama., promising that more jobs are coming soon. “We have to keep on doing what we’re doing because we are sure going in the right direction,” Ivey said, according to AL.com.
New projects for the United States Navy are underway in the shipyard, including 10 high speed transportation ships and 12 littoral combat vessels. The Navy is paying more than $5.6 billion for the ships, which are on schedule to be complete by 2019.
Despite Ivey’s positive outlook, Alabama lags behind the current national unemployment rate of 5.9%, sitting above only California, Oregon, Michigan, Tennessee, Rhode Island, Nevada, Mississippi and Georgia. Only one out of every 10 small businesses plan to expand operations and bring on new employees over the next six months, according to a survey from PNC Financial Services Group. The national survey also didn’t have a great outlook for Alabama’s sales and profits compared to this past spring.
Ivey’s challenger in the upcoming election, James Fields, doesn’t share in her optimism either, noting that a number of younger residents are leaving the state due to a lack of opportunity. Americans move roughly 11.7 times throughout their lives, and more millennials across the country are moving in search of job opportunities. Unfortunately, Alabama isn’t where they’re headed.
While Alabama’s unemployment rate may not be ideal, the country as a whole has seen vast improvements. The United States is currently enjoying its lowest unemployment rate in six years. In September, the country had 248,000 payroll gains, after 180,000 in August, and the all signs are pointing to a continuation of this trend going forward.
Other signs of an improving economy include reports of a shrinking trade deficit. Reports today showed that the trade deficit decreased by .5% in August, from $40.3 billion to $40.1 billion. This is the lowest trade deficit the country has seen in seven months.
While the U.S. labor and economic outlook is mostly upbeat, there are still some areas that need improvement. The underemployment rate remains high at 11.8%, and wage increases across the country remained stagnant in September.
The country still has some things to work on, as does Alabama. Critics may be skeptical of the state’s job outlook, but Lt. Gov. Ivey remains hopeful that Alabama residents will have more opportunities in the near future.