By Judy Bell, December 9, 2019
In a recent article, Ameri-Force discussed how national programs like the Navy’s shipbuilding estimates can help drive skilled jobs growth throughout the country. For machinists, welders and others, however, trying to find where the jobs are can be based on how individual states help promote employment. Nowhere is that more clear than in Alabama and Mississippi, two states that mirror each other in many ways, except when it comes to job growth.
Alabama’s Luck and Mississippi’s Challenges
The two are mirror images outside of borders set by the Mississippi River and a few exceptions drawn by surveyors centuries ago. Both find themselves jutting just into the Gulf of Mexico with northern borders that abut Tennessee. However, for people considering careers in either Alabama or Mississippi, they’ll find quite a few differences between the two.
For one, Huntsville, Alabama was the site of a major NASA facility that required the nation’s top minds and skilled labor for decades. There, manufacturing facilities, including one recently announced by Mazda, have helped to ensure that higher-paying jobs remain in Alabama. In fact the industrialization of Alabama, where the biggest concentration of manufacturing is still in Birmingham (a long-time site of steel and millwork), sets it apart from much of the South.
When you combine Huntsville and Birmingham in Alabama, you can see why it would have an advantage over Mississippi. There, Jackson is both the capital and its largest city, and there are few other regional hubs that can drive employment for skilled labor positions.
In fact, according to a recent analysis in the Washington Post, Mississippi has seen the most growth in warehousing and poultry processing. Those fields are often augmented with unskilled labor from a variety of sources. However, it is not all doom and gloom.
Silver Linings in the Deep South for Employment
One thing that the recent report notes is that when it comes to unemployment numbers, there are often revisions. Mississippi labor officials have told the Post that the rate is often revised down, meaning that not all the numbers are accurate as they are first released. While this may seem confusing, it makes sense because collecting information from people trying to obtain benefits or leaving the workforce can take time.
Moreover, people who do have specialized skillsets can benefit greatly from looking for work in either of the two Gulf States. Both share a low number of residents with bachelor’s degrees and several programs and aerospace companies are initiating programs to help train workers in areas like soldering and cabling to offset skills gaps.
How Staffing Agencies Are Helping
There is one final issue to note. While there are many ways that states can help reduce unemployment and match residents with the skills and positions that will help them move towards great careers, there are often smaller organizations that can also help. For example, firms that place skilled craftsmen and laborers in places like shipyards throughout the Gulf can easily have more than 100 positions open, even in areas that are supposedly not the greatest job markets.
In many cases, these are large contracts that are likely to be open for renewal because of the size of the projects in place and the health of the employer’s bottom line. It’s a matter of finding the right opportunities with companies that have experience matching employers and workers. Start searching today in Mississippi or the states that may be the best fit for your job hunting needs to learn more about how you can find the right position with the right staffing team.
Judy Bell has been with Ameri-Force since 2013 and currently serves as the Director of Gulf Coast Operations. Judy has a strong background in recruiting and human resources dating back to 2002. She has a reputation of building lasting relationships with candidates who know she will work tirelessly to keep them working.