Alabama is working again: Small-business optimism soars to record high, now more qualified workers needed
Business is booming in Alabama and across the nation.
According to a new poll released Tuesday by Gallup, American small-business owners are more optimistic now more than ever since the index was started 15 years ago. The new record is a considerable three-and-a-half percentage points better than the previous high point from 2006.
The optimism is driven largely by strong cash flow, cash flow expectations and the current financial situation.
Alabama largely mirrors the nationally-surging economy, according to its State Director for the National Federation of Independent Business, Rosemary Elebash.
“The climate is the same in Alabama [as the national trend],” she told Yellowhammer News.
However, with present economic successes also come new challenges.
“I’m getting calls every day from Alabama business owners,” Elebash shared. “Their number-one issue is finding qualified workers.”
From machine shops to restaurants and everywhere in between, low unemployment, while a sign of better times, also signifies growing pains.
In Alabama, we are not talking mainly about minimum wage positions that cannot be filled.
“These are good-paying jobs,” Elebash explains.
This is the same problem that Alabama’s eastern neighbor faces.
“Mississippi’s recent historic low unemployment rates and a record-breaking number of workers with jobs is a great picture of our state’s economic advancements and deserve being applauded,” NFIB Mississippi State Director Ron Aldridge told the Mississippi Business Journal.
“However, these indicators mask a significant resulting employment problem which negatively impacts all employers, but particularly small-businesses — a labor availability shortage and especially the quality or skill level of such available workers to meet existing and newly created job needs,” he continued.
But, a light at the end of the tunnel shines for the Yellowhammer State. Alabama was recently ranked as having the second-best workforce training in the nation by the economic development-focused publication Business Facilities in a new analysis that examined performance in several key economic categories.
Why? Alabama has the benefit of her chief executive understanding the challenges that businesses face.
“Here in Alabama, we are focused on workforce preparedness, because we are creating record jobs,” Governor Kay Ivey says in her latest campaign ad.
Read more about workforce development efforts in Alabama here.
Business Facilities also gave the state high marks for growth potential (fourth in the nation) and graded Alabama as having the nation’s best business climate.
“I’m committed to facilitating the creation of good jobs across Alabama and expanding opportunities for the state’s hard-working citizens,” Ivey added in a recent press release. “Our efforts have produced a lot of success lately, and we’re going to keep moving at full speed on this mission.”
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn