DECATUR, Ala. — The COVID-19 pandemic caused major issues in workforce recruitment. Even now, there are job openings on just about every corner. Alabama’s Labor Secretary visited with Decatur’s Rotary Club to talk about unemployment and workforce recruitment in the state.

Alabama’s unemployment rate sat at 2.6 percent before the pandemic hit. The Alabama Department of Labor reports September’s unemployment rate as 3.1 percent.

Alabama Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington is excited the state is close to being back to pre-pandemic numbers.

“We’re really encouraged on how our economy is trending in the last 22 months since the pandemic started,” he added. “We know the pandemic really put a pause on a lot of different companies throughout the state but just so encouraged where we are right now.”

While many jobs have been filled over the past few months, several industries are struggling to fill open positions.

Washington says the three sectors struggling the most with filling open jobs right now are the restaurant, leisure, and hospitality industries.

“We track job apps on a daily basis and so we know there’s two jobs for every one person that we document as unemployed,” said Washington.

News 19 asked him why there are so many open jobs are going unfilled.

“There’s no real silver bullet answer to that,” he answered. “There are a lot of people that are afraid to get back to the workforce because they’re afraid of COVID, there are a lot of retirements, there’s still transportation issues just to name a few.”

During his speech to the Rotary Club of Decatur, Washington said the pandemic gave people a different perspective.

Some families figured out how to manage a household budget on a lower income causing some people to leave the workforce altogether. While multiple people in a family may have worked at one point, now less people are accepting jobs.

For businesses looking to hire or potential employees looking for work… Washington suggests reaching out to one of ADOL’s career centers. They work to match businesses with potential employees.