The economic recession took longer to crash the party in Alabama than in many other states. But once it did arrive in late 2008, it made its presence known swiftly and severely. Alabama once boasted a far lower unemployment rate than the national average. Now it has one of the highest. Despite a decade of solid growth in the state’s productivity, the shares of Alabamians who live in poverty or lack health insurance have shown no appreciable declines in this decade. And the state’s workers face broader challenges in their efforts to climb the economic ladder, such as soaring college tuition costs and a regressive tax system.