Norris: Why has Alabama’s employment rate spiked so dramatically?

In my last column, I mentioned how Alabama seems to be on an employment tear thus far in 2017. While I have read numerous articles and scoured any number of websites, I can’t seem to find an ironclad business reason why the state’s labor market has strengthened so dramatically in such a short period of time.

Consider this: according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Household Data survey, the national economy created roughly 812,000 new jobs during the first five months of the year. Not bad. For its part, using essentially the same methodology, Alabama had 41,464 new workers during that same period. This works out to be around 5.1% of the national total, and is an eye-popping number.

First things first, Alabama is still heavily rural. According to 2010 Census, about 40% of Alabamians lived in non-urbanized areas. Further, agriculture, forestry, and so-called related industries employ a lot of folks around here. So, it isn’t all that surprising many counties in Alabama see spikes in employment staring around March which generally taper off by October. Obviously, this coincides with the planting, growing and calving seasons.

(Read the full article as previously published in the Montgomery Advertiser on July 21st, 2017)