Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Unemployed Alabama residents ready to work, but farmers are reluctant to hire them

More than 330 unemployed Americans have signed up for seasonal agricultural jobs in Alabama as a part of Gov. Robert Bentley's plan to connect job seekers to struggling farmers following implementation of Alabama's strict new immigration laws, Stephen Clark of Fox News reports. But many are still waiting for jobs, since only three agricultural employers are participating in the program and most of their openings don't start until January.

Many local farmers are hesitant to participate for fear most Americans cannot meet the physical demands of farming. Sweet-potato farmer Kevin Smith of Cullman, Ala., has not had a shortage of people interested in filling the positions, with 10 or more calls per day, but he says most quit after only a few hours because the labor is so intense, Kim Chandler of The Birmingham News reports.

Tom Surtees, director of the state Department of Industrial Relations, says farmers should give the jobs program a chance. "Americans can do the work and need the opportunity to try," he told Fox.

Marshall County saw its unemployment rate drop by 1 percentage point after many illegal workers left, Republican Sen. Scott Beason told Fox. "So what will happen over time is people will see opportunities open up and those opportunities will be filled by people willing to take a shot." (Read more)

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