Alabama's workforce was bigger at the end of 2011 than it was at the end of 2012.
According to statistics from the Department of Industrial Relations, there were 22,859 more people in Alabama's Civilian Labor Force in December 2011 than there were in December 2010.
The Civilian Labor Force, or CLF for short, is comprised of all Alabamians over the age of 16 who aren't in the military and are both able to work and are searching for jobs.
"The civilian labor force growing is a good thing because I believe it shows optimism" said Tom Surtees, Director of the Department of Industrial Relations, the agency that tracks unemployment. "There's more optimism in the workplace and more people will be entering the workforce."
Alabama's unemployment rate has declined steadily over the past six months. In July 2011 the rate reached its highest point of the year in July when the rate was 10%. Since then the rate has declined by nearly 2%. December 2011's unemployment rate 8.1% which is the lowest in the Southeast United States.
Mark Kennedy, the chairman of Alabama's Democratic Party said he wasn't convinced that the unemployment rate is all good news.
"I don't think it tells a full story about whether or not people are able to find jobs" Kennedy said.
Kennedy's assessment isn't unfounded. At the same time that Alabama's unemployment rate has gone down, so too has the size of Alabama's Civilian Labor Force.
In July 2011, the workforce was 2,163,745 and in December 2011 the workforce was 2,137,514. During that time the workforce did in fact decrease however, it was still bigger than the workforce in most of 2010.
Kennedy said he is not rooting for the unemployment rate to go up to prove a point. He still wants the unemployment rate to keep going down and the size of Alabama's labor force to keep increasing.
"I'm glad that the numbers are moving the way that they're moving" Kennedy said. "I'm just afraid that a large portion of that is that people have maxed out on their unemployment compensation and are not looking actively now for work."
Surtees with the Department of Industrial Relations said the fall in the state's unemployment is indicative of a trend and that he anticipates it will continue. He also said the increase of 41,000 jobs to Alabama's economy is proof that Alabama's jobs picture was better at the end of 2011 than it was at the end of 2010.
Copyright 2012 WSFA. All rights reserved.