2010 was a cornerstone election year for the state of Alabama. In the middle of the “Great Recession,” politicians who spouted a platform centered on job creation overwhelmingly received the vote of the people.
In fact, the dark horse candidate for governor, Robert Bentley, won the hearts and minds of Alabama voters in a single pledge not to take a salary as governor until Alabama reached full employment (5.2 percent).
Four years later, our governor still isn’t being paid and our citizens are still looking for jobs. So where are the jobs?
Alabama’s latest jobs report shows there are over 150,000 citizens actively seeking employment. That puts our unemployment rate at 7.2 percent, above the national average of 6.8 percent.
From June 2013 to June 2014, Alabama ranked 47th in job growth nationally. While a majority of states saw an average growth of at least 1 percent, Alabama’s economy only grew by a rate of 0.3 percent.
More troubling than our job growth (or lack thereof) and unemployment is its underemployment rate. Underemployment is when a person is employed at a job not equivalent to their skill-level, or when someone is employed at a part-time job and would prefer to work full-time. Alabama’s current underemployment rate rests above 12 percent. This means 12 percent of Alabama’s labor force (more than 300,000 people) are working part-time instead of full-time. Anyone who’s ever worked part-time knows that you can’t raise a family on a part-time, low-wage income.
These numbers should leave many voters confused; especially those unemployed and underemployed voters. And now that election season is upon us and politicians are touting their “record” on job creation, the confusion is only amplified.
What else did you expect? In 2010, those who won their elections now know the message they won on. So they are playing the same hand of cards again, betting on us—the voters. The truth is that our unemployment rate has, in fact, decreased since the 2010 election, by a difference of about 2.5 percent.
The truth also remains unemployment nationwide decreased from 2010 to 2014 as well, by a difference of about 3 percent.
So, who is to credit for Alabama’s job performance over the past four years? Is it those Alabama politicians who were elected in 2010? Or does it have something more to do with the success of the national economy?
I am wary to believe that a slower-than-average Alabama economy is any reason for our current state leaders to brag.
We will see if Alabama voters choose to add to our unemployment statistics when they cast their ballots in a few weeks to approve or disapprove of our leaders’ jobs over the past four years.