Jobless rate sign of times to come

Published 2:19 pm Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Budgets are tightening all over. That’s no surprise to many of us here in Shelby County as we move to trim expenses in our homes and businesses.

Concerns that the worst of our economic woes may very well be ahead of us add a level of gravity to what must be done now and the weeks and months ahead to balance our individual and collective budgets.

Certainly we can be thankful for the “bright spots” in our economic picture such as Shelby County having the lowest unemployment in the state. However, there is a flip side.

Shelby County’s unemployment rose to 4.4 percent in November. While still lower than anywhere else in the state, our unemployment rate is still impacting thousands of our citizens. Families are worried and their dreams are on hold.

News shared during a town hall meeting earlier this week in Columbiana by state senator Steve French and representatives Mike Hill and Cam Ward suggested budgets are looking no rosier in Montgomery. Proration already in place, the Alabama Education Trust Fund faces a projected $1 billion shortfall with revenue growth the lowest in the state since 1982.

Spending cuts from law enforcement to education no doubt will be considered in the upcoming legislative session.

President Obama’s proposed stimulus package may hold promise for state budgets and infrastructure improvements, but it is too early to bet on what might come our way as a result of its passage.

Tough financial decisions will and must be made in the local grocery checkout line and at the statehouse in Montgomery. Let’s hope we all have the courage to make the decisions required of us by these difficult times.