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House speaker appoints study commission to examine Alabama’s labor force participation

Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter announced Monday key House members that will serve on an ad hoc committee studying Alabama’s labor force participation rates.

Alabama House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter.

Speaker of the House Nathaniel Ledbetter announced on Monday key House members that will serve on an ad hoc committee studying Alabama’s labor force participation rates and identifying barriers to workforce entry:

“Alabama is witnessing record-breaking economic growth and historically low unemployment rates,” Ledbetter said. “Despite these numbers, in Alabama, there are roughly 140,000 job openings and, at the same time, 48,834 unemployed workers across our state. That means we are lacking nearly 100,000 workers over 16-years-old, which puts our labor force participation rate at a mere 57 percent—one of the lowest rates in the entire country.”

The House Members serving on the study commission will be Rep. Reed Ingram, R–Pike Road, – Chairman; Rep. Danny Garrett, R–Trussville; Rep. Donna Givens, R–Robersdale; Rep. Anthony Daniels, D–Huntsville; Rep. James Lomax, R–Huntsville; Rep. Barbara Drummond, D–Mobile; Rep. Mike Kirkland, R–Scottsboro; Rep. Bill Lamb, R–Tuscaloosa; Rep. Kelvin Lawrence, D–Hayneville; Rep. Curtis Travis, D–Tuscaloosa; Rep. Chris Pringle, R–Mobile; Rep. Matt Woods, R–Jasper; Rep. Wes Kitchens, R–Guntersville; Rep. Jim Carns, R–Birmingham; Rep. Scott Stadthagen, R–Hartselle.

“Over the coming months, it will be imperative for this group to build on the progress of, and collaborate with, existing entities such as the Lt. Governor’s Commission on 21st Century Workforce, the Alabama Community College System, Alabama higher-education institutions, and essential stakeholders across the private sector,” stated Ledbetter.

Some specific areas the study commission will address are extending adequate childcare to families, examining the correlation between productivity growth and labor output, ensuring wages and salaries are competitive, addressing workforce housing concerns, and offering improved and more expansive mental health programs and services.

“An insufficiency of resources such as these creates barriers to workforce entry as much as an absence of quality education,” Ledbetter concluded.

The study commission is slated to host their first meeting on Thursday, October 5 at 10 am in room 617 of the Alabama State House.

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Although Alabama boasts the seventh lowest unemployment rate nationally, its labor force participation lingers at 57.2 percent.