All issues related to workforce development continue to be at the forefront of economic development discussions. While working to confront challenges related to the topic, key information is needed to assess focus areas and set forth initiatives to address outstanding needs.
The state of Alabama, under the direction of Gov. Kay Ivey, set the goal of adding 500,000 credentialed workers to the labor force. Achieving this goal would have Alabama surpass the average national labor force participation rate and return the state to employment levels it held prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
AlabamaWorks advises that data must be evaluated across the state in order to understand what is needed to reach the ambitious attainment goals for each specific workforce region. A thorough assessment of the state’s workforce landscape is utilized to analyze factors that contribute to educational and employment issues.
The profiles were originally developed through an Equity Leadership Acceleration Grant from the Lumina Foundation, the Alabama Commission on Higher Education and Equivolve Consulting, in partnership with the Alabama Workforce Council and the Governor’s Office of Education and Workforce Transformation.
AlabamaWorks notes that the profiles have been updated to include an in-depth statewide view as well as a focus on the labor force participation rate. The regional profiles provide a breakdown of numerous factors which play a role in contributing to the current workforce environment.
The report assesses the wages of individuals who work 30 or more hours a week and offers statistics on the amount of these workers who are considered to be struggling in the workforce.
— AlabamaWorks (@ALWorksSystem) December 20, 2021
The report provides an assessment of the annual migration of individuals holding varying levels of education to and from the state’s respected workforce regions. The analysis also provides a breakdown of educational attainment of the population of prime working-age adults between the ages of 25 to 54, an age group in which Alabama saw a 1.3% decline from 2014 to 2019.
Educational attainment statistics are also provided by gender, race and ethnicity. The report asserts that the information will be used to formulate a plan to encourage more working-age adults to pursue more education and training opportunities.
The profiles also provide a percentage-based examination of specific categories which contribute to workforce-related issues compared to statewide averages.
The following are key findings as presented by the Alabama Workforce Council profile:
- The prime working-age and younger populations in Alabama have slightly declined over the past five years.
- There is a strong positive relationship between education and wage income across the nation, and Alabama is similar to most southern states with lower-than-average levels of college attainment and annual wages.
- Compared to the United States and the southern states, smaller percentages of prime working-age residents in Alabama have completed college credentials. There are sizable gaps between white individuals and individuals of color, and males and females.
- Alabama is below the national average in the percentage of working adults participating in the labor force. Among the largest gender and racial/ethnic subpopulations, females and black individuals participate in the labor force at the lowest rates.
- Workers in Alabama struggle more than those across the United States to earn wages of $35,000 annually, at all levels of education completed.
- Alabama is a net-importer at all levels of education. However, it imports more residents with just a high school diploma than those at any other education level. Management, business and finance are the largest net-import occupations; followed by transportation and production and education, legal and community service occupations.
- The data suggest that Alabama’s economy, compared to the economies of the nation and its southern neighbors, relies more on the acquisition of workers with shorter-term credentials and associate degrees for mid-level jobs.
A full, in-depth and comprehensive analysis of Alabama’s regional workforce profiles can be seen here.
Thank you to our “Connect to your Future” sponsors: Alabama Power, AlabamaWorks and Manufacture Alabama for making this initiative possible.
Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL