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Online job ads up 11% as Alabama shifts to tackle low labor participation rate

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The number of online job ads posted in June is up 10.9% compared to a year ago according to a new report from the Alabama Department of Labor, with state leadership moving to tackle the state’s poor labor participation rate.

Despite having the seventh-lowest unemployment rate in the country at just 2.2%, Alabama is tied with New Mexico as having the third-lowest labor participation rate in the country at 57.4%, ahead of only West Virginia and Mississippi. Unlike the unemployment rate, which measures the number of unemployed adults seeking work, the labor participation rate is calculated using everyone 16 and older, whether seeking work or not.

A June 21 report from the Alabama Department of Labor shows the number of online job postings in June, 2023.

According to the new report released Wednesday, a total of 122,307 online job ads were posted in Alabama in June, a significant increase when compared to June 2022, which itself was a 33.3% increase over June 2021.

Registered nurses were the most advertised position with 6,054 job ads, followed by retail salespersons at 4,119, and retail sales supervisors at 3,617. UAB Medicine and Huntsville Hospital were the top two employers in June, posting 1,206 and 1,130 online job ads, respectively.

While not alone in having a shortage of registered nurses, Alabama has the second-lowest median salary for registered nurses in the country at $56,570, ahead of only South Dakota’s $55,660.

Of the 122,307 job ads posted in June, only 52,647, or 43% of them included salaries. Just over 16,100 job ads had salaries above $70,000, 9,141 had salaries between $50,000 – -$69,000, 12,910 had salaries between $35,000 – $50,000, and 13,350 were below $35,000.

In an op-ed released Thursday, Gov. Kay Ivey said it was time for the state to shift its focus toward improving the state’s labor participation rate, saying that her next priority will be “getting folks off the sidelines and into the labor force.”

“A key part of our workforce development efforts is identifying barriers that exist for those on the sidelines who want to work but cannot; maybe that is childcare, maybe that is transportation,” Ivey said.

“Maybe that is simply (the) difficulty in shifting from a reliance on government programs to employment. We are working hard to help eliminate these barriers – whatever they may be – so that more Alabamians can participate in our labor force.”

Ivey also called for increasing the state’s postsecondary education attainment rate, increasing the number of college and trade school-educated Alabamians through continued workforce development programs.

At 57.4%, Alabama’s workforce participation rate is currently near its all-time low of 55.4%, which was recorded in April 2020 at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The next lowest rate was recorded in January 2016 at 55.7%, with the next-lowest rate being recorded back in January 1976 at 55.9%.

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