By WILL WHATLEY, Alabama Daily News
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Alabama Department of Labor announced last Friday that the state’s June unemployment rate bumped up to 4.1% from May’s rate of 3.9%. The bump is common during the summer months as both high school and college graduates look to enter the job market, along with some education employees being free as school is out for break.
But numbers can be a funny thing when it comes to figuring out the overall picture of Alabama’s workforce. While the unemployment rate is a good indicator, there are many other factors that come into play when getting a full employment picture. And since the Great Recession, Alabama’s workforce numbers have never been better.
The unemployment rate is calculated for each state via phone surveys performed in each state. At its highest point, in October 2009, the unemployment rate in Alabama reached 11.8%, well above the national rate of 10.2% at the time. The current rate of 4.1% is below what the Federal Reserve considers to be “full employment,” which is a rate of 5.0-5.2%.
Wage and Salary
Wage and salary employment is another solid measure of the workforce and counts the numbers of jobs that are filled at the time. In January 2010, this number fell to 1,858,700. Now it sits at 2,050,400.
Initial unemployment claims are made when a person loses their job through no fault own. In December 2008, initial unemployment claims were at 66,249. In order to pay all the claims, the state was forced to take out a $283 million loan from the U.S. government. The number of initial unemployment claims decreased to 11,289 in last month’s numbers. Moreover, the state repaid the federal loan in 2011.
Job openings provide a snapshot of a growing economy. JobLink, the state’s free job opening database, had a meager 3,470 job openings statewide in November 2009. Now, there are 18,962 new job orders on the website.
Business confidence has also grown since the Great Recession. The first quarter of 2009 saw business confidence tumble to 31.5 points. That has grown to 64 points in the second quarter of 2018.
Gross Domestic Product
Finally, the gross domestic product declined in 2009 to 2.5%. That amount grew to 3.3% in 2017.
By all indicators, Alabama’s economy is truly thriving and is a testament to local and statewide leadership for guiding the state through a tumultuous period, one they hope isn’t repeated due to tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump.