Founded in 1939, the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) provides services related to economic and employment issues in the state. It partners with the Alabama Career Center System, which provides employment and training services for all job seekers. DIR has five operational divisions: Employment Service (ES), Unemployment Compensation (UC), Workers’ Compensation (WC), Labor Market Information (LMI), and Mining and Reclamation. DIR currently employs approximately 970 employees and has an annual budget of approximately $113,559,313. The department’s offices are located a block north of the state capitol in Montgomery.
DIR was created by the Alabama legislature in 1939 as part of a national response to the Great Depression and followed on the heels of New Deal legislation initiated by Pres. Franklin Roosevelt in 1935. The new agency assumed responsibility for programs previously delegated to the Unemployment Compensation Commission, Compensation Commission, Board of Mediation and Arbitration, Chief Mine Inspector, and Department of Labor. The functions of these programs remain basically intact today within the current operational structure of the department. The legislation also provided social security and assistance for the elderly and authorized an unemployment insurance program, which provides funding for unemployment compensation benefits.
The Employment Service Division matches and refers qualified job seekers with job openings. It provides assistance in job referral, employability development activities, and job development as well as occupational and training information at 47 centers throughout the state. This division runs Alabama JobLink, which is the state’s free online jobs database that allows jobseekers to post their resumes online for employers to view. Employers also can post available jobs and browse qualified applicants.
The Unemployment Compensation Division provides individuals with basic sustenance money when they are laid off through no fault of their own, until they become re-employed. It benefits employers because it enables them to maintain their workforce during short-term layoffs. Administration of the Unemployment Compensation program is funded entirely by Federal Unemployment Taxes. The Workers’ Compensation Division administers the Alabama Workers’ Compensation program, which provides for compensation for job-related injuries and occupationally derived diseases. This division has a compliance section that promotes employer compliance with Alabama law. Field examiners in different areas of the state enforce compliance with the law to provide each employee the same benefits.
The Labor Market Information Division collects and analyzes labor market data for dissemination to employers, economic developers, job market researchers, and other interested individuals and is the primary source for information about Alabama’s population, employment, unemployment, and wages. This division uses data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (a division of the U.S. Department of Labor). This data is available by individual phone request, presentations, publications, and the Internet.
The Mining and Reclamation division encompasses two programs. The Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Program restores land and water resources that have been adversely affected by past coal mining, including abandoned surface mines, coal processing areas, and underground mine entries, to reduce public safety hazards and environmental problems. A related program, the Mine Safety and Inspection Program, inspects all working places in mines to ensure compliance with state laws which protect the safety of persons working in the mining industry. This section also coordinates rescue efforts if there is a mine disaster, investigates fatal mine accidents, and trains miners in mine safety, rescue and first aid.