Get the Daily News Digest in your inbox each morning. Sign Up

Survey: 31% of underemployed cite transportation issues as barrier

Results from a recent survey underscore that COVID-19 is no longer a barrier to workforce participation in Alabama, while transportation, personal health and familial obligations are among the current obstacles facing Alabamians who seek employment.

The Governor’s Office of Education and Workforce Transformation and the Alabama Workforce Council conducted a fourth iteration of the Alabama Survey of the Unemployed and Underemployed to measure awareness and attitudes toward new job training programs in the state.

The survey, conducted by polling company Cygnal between Jan. 4 and Jan. 16, included 500 underemployed and unemployed Alabamians.

Participants listed COVID-19 as a barrier to employment 11 times less this year than in 2020 and 2021. Meanwhile, 31% of jobseekers cited a lack of transportation as their primary reason for being either unemployed or underemployed this year.

As of December 2022, Alabama’s unemployment rate is 2.8% while the state’s workforce participation rate was 56.8%.

“Our workforce participation rate shows we’ve got about 57% of folks that are actually holding jobs, and that means 43% of our available workforce is sitting on the sidelines,” Tim McCartney, chairman of the Alabama Workforce Council said. “…We’re looking at these people and asking, ‘You’re capable of working, why are you not working?’”

Three-quarters of respondents said they are likely to seek workforce entry in 2023. A plurality of unemployed and underemployed workers see value in obtaining a credential before seeking full-time employment, while only 20% of  respondents completed additional job training while underemployed or unemployed.

“All of us who are resources (training programs) can do everything imaginable, creative and innovative, but if the underemployed or unemployed are not using our resources, then we have nothing,” said Ed Castile, executive director of Alabama Industrial Development Training. “We have got to figure out how to get the information to those who need additional training and help them understand this is a good path for them.”

At least 85% of respondents said they were more likely to apply for a job after reading about available programs and resources. When it comes to free training programs, business administration, human services and information technology garner the most interest.

“Back in November, Alabama had a bit less than 120,000 job postings for jobs available, and we had about 60,000 people on unemployment,” McCartney said. “Basically, we had two jobs available for every person on unemployment. We have the jobs.”

The results from the survey will be used to fine-tune training programs for those who want to reenter the workforce.

After transportation issues, respondents said they were unemployed or underemployed because: full-time work is unavailable or hard to find; their own health issues or disability; and personal and family responsibilities.

“We’re looking at all the states, especially the ones around us who have a similar population of people, on those issues like transportation and child care,” Castile said. “There is not a one size fits all solution, but this survey combined with other ideas will help us find the solutions to take our legislators, the governor’s office and decision makers.”

Get the Daily News Digest in your inbox each morning.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Web Development By Infomedia