While Alabama continues its streak of low unemployment tallies, it also struggles with workforce participation.
In recent months, the state's labor participation rate has remained just above 56%, among the lowest in the nation.
During an interview with Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5's "The Jeff Poor Show," U.S. Sen. Katie Britt (R-Montgomery) acknowledged the problem and suggested that federal benefits kept some parts of the able-bodied workforce on the sidelines.
"So we are actually six points below the national average when it comes to our labor participation rate," she said. "Here in Alabama, while we tout a low unemployment rate of 2.6-2.7%, our labor participation rate is only 56.4%. That is totally and completely unacceptable. When you look across the nation, nearly three-quarters of able-bodied childless adults between the ages of 18 and 55 who collect food stamps do not work at all. When we are looking at how can we do better? How can we be better? This, to me, should be the top thing we are talking about. We have got to get people moving. We have got to get America back to work."
"The studies show that if we can get 4 million able-bodied adults from welfare to work, it would boost the economy by about $149 billion, and the more workers we have — that also increases Social Security and Medicare revenues by about $89 billion," Britt added. "Not to mention, Jeff, there is a dignity in an honest day's work. It helps with mental health. It helps with productivity. That contribution, both to your family and to society, feels good. We have got to stand firm on this. We have got to continue talking about it. It just makes sense. But as you know, in Washington, D.C., common sense is not very common."
Jeff Poor is the executive editor of 1819 News and host of "The Jeff Poor Show," heard Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-noon on Mobile's FM Talk 106.5. To connect or comment, email [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @jeff_poor.
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