Alabama Survey of the Alabama Unemployed and Underemployed 4.0

The Governor’s Office of Education and Workforce Transformation and the Alabama Workforce Council conducted the fourth iteration of the Alabama Survey of the Unemployed and Underemployed to measure awareness and attitudes towards new job training programs in Alabama among underemployed and unemployed Alabamians.

The survey was conducted by Cygnal between January 4 and January 16, 2023, and 500 underemployed and unemployed Alabamians responded to the survey. 48% of respondents were male and 52% were female. The results of the Alabama Survey of the Unemployed and Underemployed underscores that fact that COVID-19 as a barrier to employment has almost entirely evaporated, although 45% of respondents claim COVID-19 has contributed to their current state of underemployment or unemployment.

At least three-quarters of respondents are very likely to seek entry to workforce in 2023. The number of men that responded to the survey that have been underemployed longer than 6 months have decreased, while the number of underemployed women has increased. Women are 11% more likely than men to have been underemployed longer than 6 months. Workers over the age of 35 are over 20% more likely to be underemployed for more than 6 months than workers under 35.

The current major obstacle to full employment is now transportation, followed by personal health, and familial obligations. 21% of Alabama jobseekers cited transportation as their greatest barrier to full-time employment, and 31% said it was their primary reason for being either unemployed or underemployed. Lack of transportation is particularly daunting for low-income and urban jobseekers, while older workers are hampered more by health issues. Women are three times more likely than men to cite familial obligations as a barrier to work.

Earning more money has become the preeminent reason for changing industries for both men and women, though women tend to place greater emphasis on reducing stress and a flexible schedule. The top concerns at the height of the pandemic, stability, and consistent wages, have fallen to secondary concerns. High-income earners are more likely to seek out an industry that has a more flexible workload and schedule. 83% of unemployed and underemployed workers are willing to apply for non-remote work, which is up from 77% during the height of pandemic.

When it comes to free training programs, business administration, human services, and information technology garner the most interest. A plurality of respondents said earning a certificate or license is their main goal when receiving job training or education. 41% of respondents said additional training is too expensive. A plurality of unemployed and underemployed workers see value in obtaining a credential before seeking full-time employment. Only 20% respondents completed additional job training while underemployed or unemployed.

At least 85% of respondents said they were more likely to apply for a job after reading about available programs and resources. Men and workers under 35 prefer skills training programs when considering applying for jobs, while women and workers over 35 are more interested in pursuing resources like community college, job fairs, and career coaching.