Transportation, childcare and concerns over losing government benefits are among the main barriers facing unemployed and underemployed Alabamians as they seek to enter the workforce or improve their career pathway, according to the results of a new survey.
The survey, commissioned by AlabamaWorks, gathered responses from 401 unemployed and underemployed Alabamians. A person is considered “underemployed” if he or she is not doing work that makes full use of their skills and abilities.
- Just over half of all respondents say they lost a job or job opportunity because of a lack of transportation. 45 percent report they have access to public transportation while 47 percent say they do not.
- Of the 220 respondents who are parents to a minor child, almost half have family or friends who help them with childcare, but 64 percent say the lack of adequate childcare has caused them to work fewer hours than they’d like.
- More than 37 percent have declined or delayed taking a new job or promotion because they were afraid they would lose a government benefit, according to a survey.
- Just over 26 percent of respondents said they have declined or delayed school or training for the same reason, the survey shows.
To address these concerns, AlabamaWorks is pursuing a human capital development strategy that couples workforce training with a continuum of services to assist those who are struggling to overcome these barriers. For example, the state partnered with the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta earlier this year to create DAVID, the Dashboard for Alabamians to Visualize Income Determinations.
DAVID is the first solution of its kind in the country, and the unique partnership between Alabama and the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta created a tool to help people navigate the loss of public assistance as they move along a career pathway.
“Benefit cliffs, which occur when earnings gains are offset by the loss of public benefits, have long been recognized to create financial disincentives for low-income individuals to earn more income or train for higher paying occupations,” said Tim McCartney, chairman of the Alabama Workforce Council. “Under Governor Ivey’s leadership, Alabama has made abating benefit cliffs central to the state’s strategy for helping people achieve self-sufficiency.”
DAVID also helps workforce development professionals gain insight into what a career pathway looks like to a worker entering and moving up in a profession. It can help inform decisions, reduce uncertainty and encourage the unemployed and underemployed to participate fully in the economy.