Work: Online job vacancies up 17.3%

From MARY SELL, Alabama Daily News

Online job listings from employers in Alabama increased 17.3% year over year through October, according to analysis by the Alabama Department of Labor.

In October there were more than 109,300 online ads. The October state unemployment rate of 2.7% represents 61,760 potential jobseekers.

Registered nurses and retail clerks were among the most sought-after employees in October, as were supervisors of retail clerks, customer service representatives and software developers. A total of 16,126 ads were placed for these positions in October.

Huntsville Hospital and UAB Health System were the employers with the most online ads in October with 1,487 and 1,237, respectively.

Hospitals across the state need nurses and other medical professionals, Danne Howard, associate director of the Alabama Hospital Association, told the Alabama Daily News.

“Almost every hospital is understaffed and the need for nursing staff is still very high,” Howard said.

In addition to registered nurses, hospitals lack licensed practical nurses and nutrition, laboratory, and pharmacy staff.

“You name it, we need it,” Howard said.

Labor’s data comes from the state’s free online jobs database,, as well as traditional job boards and social media posts.

Thirty-two percent of the ads were for jobs with salaries of $35,000 or less. At the top end, 26% were for jobs with salaries of $75,000 or more.

Retail giants Walmart and Lowe’s also made the list of top jobseekers in October.

Alabama Retail Association spokeswoman Nancy Dennis said some retailers were looking for employees even during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020. And since then, small and large shops have been looking for thousands of workers every month.

“We’re hiring, we’re hiring all the time,” Dennis said. “Even smaller retailers and restaurants… we’re hiring at all levels.”

And now they pay more.

According to Dennis, the median hourly wage for retail clerks is $13.83 per hour and the median wage for experienced retail clerks is $16.09.

“We’re hiring at all levels in retail, and especially now they’re hiring seasonal workers,” Dennis said. These holiday rentals can lead to permanent employment.

There are now nearly two openings for every job seeker in Alabama, prompting state leaders to look for ways to win back those who left the job market.

“Alabamaans who are not employed do not intentionally avoid work,” wrote Tim McCartney, chair of the Alabama Workforce Council, in September. “Many people face performance cliffs as they enter the workforce, caused by means-tested benefits phasing out faster than an individual can make up for their loss through paid employment.

“Access to education and training, coupled with human services, is a method to meet the complex needs of Alabamaans who face barriers to entering the labor market.”