By Jessica Vaughn
FOLEY – During the month of March, Executive Director of South Alabama Workforce Development Council Dr. Josh Duplantis gave a regional update for the South Baldwin area to local officials. Regional data is a service the SAWDC offers to their partners, such as the South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce, detailing where an area is in the overall market.
Employment in the South Baldwin area for the fourth quarter of 2018 was 32,668, an increase of 2.5 percent from 2017.
“That is actually above the state average of employment increases, and above the rest of this region,” said Duplantis. “The region includes Mobile, Baldwin, and Washington counties combined, which increased by 1.1 percent over the last quarter. Alabama itself is at 1.4 percent employment increase, so that is significant growth for this area.”
The area witnessed increases in wages as well. Average annual wages per worker increased 2.4 percent during the fourth quarter of 2018, more than both the rest of the region as well as the state, which increased 1.8 percent and 2.1 percent respectively.
“One of the things I always look at is where are the jobs in our region,” Duplantis said. “For that we use a location quotient, which is a measurement of concentration in comparison to the nation. Everything that’s at 1.00 indicates a region has the same concentration of an industry as the nation.”
The top three in the South Baldwin area are food preparation and serving related occupations at 2.12 percent more jobs than anywhere else in the country; building and grounds cleaning and maintenance occupations at 1.91 percent; and sales and related occupations at 1.57 percent.
SAWDC also looks at labor participation, or who’s working and who’s not. The council considers prime age to be 25-54, which accounts for 81 percent of those working in our area, which is as high as the national average. For those not working, Duplantis states there are four main barriers in our area that prevent people from getting a job: child care, transportation, substance abuse, and skills.
“I passed through the Eastern Shore Chamber’s job fair earlier this week just to talk to people that are actually looking for jobs in this tight labor market, and you could just about peg one of those four things as to why they hadn’t found a job yet, with child care and transportation being the top two,” Duplantis said.
Looking at where people work in the South Baldwin area, accommodation and food services came in on top with 22 percent, followed closely by retail trade at 17 percent.
“This region represents 40 percent of the state’s hospitality jobs,” Duplantis said. “So no surprise to see both of those at the top.”
Healthcare and social assistance were at eight percent, and construction and educational services were both at six percent.
To learn more about SAWDC and regional updates, check out their website at sawdcalabamaworks.com.