Alabama unemployment decrease a sign of economic recovery

By PAUL DEMARCO / Guest Columnist 

Note: This is an opinion column.

A recent report of those unemployed in Alabama shows that the state is still suffering from the effects of COVID-19, but heading in the right direction. The Alabama Department of Labor reported that the most recent numbers from October showed the unemployment rate at 5.8 percent, down from 6.7 percent in September.

It looks like more residents of the state are getting back to work on a more permanent basis, despite a surge in the virus across the country. And Gov. Kay Ivey has made it clear she will not shut down businesses again despite the increase in the number of those infected with the virus. Other state governors have returned to the strict restrictions that had been in place in the spring and the summer that devastated so many employers and employees.

Before the pandemic, Alabama’s economy was soaring. Unemployment had reached historic lows and the state has earned numerous accolades for being one of the best places to do business in the Nation. In addition, the Alabama Department of Commerce has reported that from 2012 up until 2019, the state had economic development activity of some $44 billion in new capital investment, which led to 135,000 current and future jobs.

Now that the restrictions have been removed, the busy holiday season will be make or break for some of the state’s smallest companies, particularly retailers and those in the hospitality industry.

With the news of at least what appears to be three effective vaccines soon to begin nationwide distribution beginning in December, hopefully, we are closer to the end of the pandemic.  Business owners are working to stay open and provide a safe environment for both employees and customers, thus hopefully both the unemployment rate and those sick with the coronavirus will continue to decrease in Alabama.

Paul DeMarco is a former member of the Alabama House of Representatives.