Congressman Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, on Wednesday repeated his call for Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey to lift the restrictions that have shut down the Alabama economy.
“Every day, Governor Ivey delays causes more economic suffering by Alabama’s economy,” Brooks stated on social media.
On Monday, Brooks, after consulting with his appointed counsel of advisors, sent a letter to the governor urging her to immediately reopen the economy.
“Governor Ivey should immediately repeal and rescind Alabama’s stay at home order that has played a major role in strangling Alabama’s economy,” Brooks said. “Every day Governor Ivey delays causes more economic suffering by Alabama citizens. Every day delayed is a nail in the coffin of otherwise income and job-producing enterprises. At some point, the job-creating business will be killed by government dictate, forever, to Alabama’s detriment.”
Ivey asked the members of Alabama’s congressional delegation for their views on reopening the economy.
Congressman Bradley Byrne, R-Montrose, said, “Governor Ivey should announce the reopening timeline by Friday, April 24 to give businesses time to make the necessary arrangements. Advance notice is also important as it provides time needed to fully inform and educate the public of the upcoming changes.”
“While efforts to fight the coronavirus are ongoing, it is critical to make informed preparations to begin safely reopening our local economy,” said Byrne. “The recommendations from our task force are the result of input from leaders of diverse backgrounds throughout our district and prioritize the need to provide clear and concise guidance to the public while holding businesses to the same reasonable standards regardless of their size. I thank all the members of our task force for offering their time and expertise, and I hope Governor Ivey finds our recommendations helpful.”
Byrne wants to reopen the dining rooms in restaurants on May 1.
The Alabama Small Business Commission, headed by Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth, has also recommended that the economy begin reopening in their Re-Open AL Safely plan.
“Assuming Alabama has less than 339 COVID-19 cases tomorrow, we will qualify to reopen businesses under President Trump’s Opening Up America Again guidelines,” Ainsworth said. “It is time to put Alabamians back to work, and we can do it both safely and responsibly.”
“Alabama has two options,” Brooks said. “We can live under government dictate, where a burgeoning nanny state regulates, ‘for our own good, because we are not smart enough to know better’, the minutiae of our lives (even to the point of dictating when we can visit our children, grandchildren, parents and siblings, and how far apart we must be when we do so),” stated Brooks. “Or we can have a government that is a partner and advisor, that gives its best advice but defers to citizens the liberty and freedom of making their own decisions on how to best balance the conflict between COVID-19 safety and the income needed to support family life.”
Ivey has not released a timeline for reopening the economy.
Ivey said that her decision on opening the economy would be “data-driven and not date-driven.”
Some public health sources have privately expressed concerns that if the state opens too quickly it could lead to a resurgence in COVID-19 cases and lead to more deaths. Businessmen meanwhile have expressed concerns that if “nonessential businesses” stay closed with the public confined to their homes by Gov. Ivey’s shelter in place orders that the economy will go into a deep recession. On Tuesday, a citizens protest of the forced economic shutdown was broken up by authorities.
Already 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment; meanwhile, the Payroll Protection Program that businesses were using as a lifeline through the Small Business Administration ran out of money a week ago. The House of Representatives is expected to return to D.C. to pass the relief bill passed by the Senate on Tuesday.
As of press time, the U.S. has 849,092 cases of COVID-19 and already 47,681 deaths, with 2,341 passing on Wednesday alone.
Alabama Farmer’s Federation starts a relief fund for farmers impacted by Sally
The Alabama Farmers Federation said Monday that it has established a relief fund to help farmers from across the state whose farms were damaged by Hurricane Sally.
“When disaster strikes, I am always impressed by the people of Alabama and their giving spirits,” said Alabama Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell. “As we started receiving photos of damaged crops, barns and equipment, we also started getting questions from people about what they could do to help our farmers, and that’s why we’ve established this fund.”
All the donations to the relief fund are tax-deductible and may be made online or by check payable to Alabama Farmers Agriculture Foundation at P.O. Box 11000, Montgomery, AL 36191. Please include “hurricane relief fund” in the check memo line.
“Most of our farmers had as good a crop as we’ve ever seen, and it was so close to harvest for cotton, soybeans, peanuts and pecans,” Parnell said. “It’s devastating to lose a crop that had so much promise. Our farmers are great people who are assisting each other with cleaning up the damage, and we’re so grateful to everyone across the state who is helping in some way, like donating to the relief fund.”
Hurricane Sally made landfall near Gulf Shores as a category two storm Sept. 16 with maximum sustained winds of 105 mph. Official reports from the National Weather Service show more than 20 inches of rain in Baldwin County.
The combination of heavy rains and high winds damaged crops, structures and equipment from Mobile and Baldwin Counties in the southwest through Russell County in the east.
It has been a difficult few years for farmers.
While the general economy had been doing well prior to the coronavirus global pandemic, the farmers were caught in the middle of an international trade dispute over tariffs and fair competition.
Chinese retaliation against Americans farm products depressed commodity markets from 2018 through early this year.
When it appeared that the U.S. and China had come to a trade accord in January, the coronavirus hit along with massive disruptions in the supply chain.
Farm bankruptcies were already up pre-COVID-19. The loss of the 2020 crop could push some already struggling agribusinesses over the brink.
The Alabama Farmers Federation is Alabama’s largest and most influential farmers’ organization.
Applications open for Alabama’s CARES Act Marine Industry Relief Program
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Marine Resources Division announced this week that it is currently accepting applications for its CARES Act relief program for fishery-related businesses.
The program was established to provide financial relief for losses suffered by the state’s marine fishing industry due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information about the program, visit this website.
Congress awarded $3.2 million of CARES Act money to the state of Alabama to address financial losses caused by the pandemic that occurred in the state’s seafood industry between March 1 and May 31, 2020.
To qualify, fishery-related businesses must have experienced revenue losses greater than 35 percent between the dates listed above. The 35 percent revenue loss is compared to the average revenue earned between March 1 and May 31 in the preceding five years of 2015-2019.
Only Alabama residents and tribal members that are licensed as saltwater commercial fishermen — those that possess licenses for fishing, taking/catching of oysters, taking/carrying shrimp, gill net fishing, and “crab catching” — seafood or oyster aquaculture operators, non-retail seafood dealers or processors, live-bait dealers and for-hire vessel owners-operators are eligible to participate in the program.
Qualifying individuals and businesses must be able to substantiate their income reduction and complete the application process to be eligible for loss reimbursement. Alabama residents who participate in eligible fisheries in other states as non-resident licensees may also be eligible to participate in Alabama’s program.
Completed applications and supporting documentation can be mailed, shipped or hand delivered to the MRD office in Gulf Shores, Alabama, located at 999 Commerce Drive.
The applications must be postmarked no later than Friday, Oct. 30, 2020. Completed applications can also be hand-delivered by 5 p.m. that day. Electronic copies including email will not be accepted. For more information about the program, including FAQs and the application form, visit outdooralabama.com/CARES-ACT.
Learn more about the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources by visiting outdooralabama.com.
The coronavirus crisis and the economic shutdowns and business limitations to combat the spread of the coronavirus has been devastating to the American economy. At least 28 million Americans are still receiving unemployment benefits and the S&P 500 index closed on Wednesday at 3,236.9, which is still down 4.4 percent from its February peak of 3,386.
At least 982,513 people, including 206,598 Americans, have died from COVID-19 and more than 32 million people globally have been diagnosed with the coronavirus including 7,140,137 Americans.
Registered nurses, retail salespersons were most sought after employees in August
Data collected and analyzed by the Alabama Department of Labor’s Labor Market Information Division shows that the five occupations with the most online wanted ads continue to be for registered nurses, retail salespersons, truck drivers, sales representatives and customer service representatives — with more than 8,000 ads placed for those occupations in August.
The HWOL data is compiled from all online job postings in the state, including those posted on the state’s free online jobs database, AlabamaWorks, and other sources such as traditional job boards, corporate boards and social media sites.
Twelve percent of job ads have salaries of $75,000 and above. Fifteen percent have salaries in the $50,000 to $75,000 range. Eighteen percent have salaries in the $35,000 to $49,000 range, and 55 percent have salaries of $35,000 or less.
The top three employers posting ads in August were UAB Medicine with 992 postings, Lowe’s with 770 and the University of Alabama at Birmingham with 502.
These were followed by the University of South Alabama with 404, Diversicare Healthcare & Therapy Services with 331, Huntsville Hospital with 295, Encompass Home Health with 270, Baptist Health with 246, Advance Auto Parts with 240 and Grandview Medical Center with 236 to round out the top 10 employers with the most online ads.
Software developers are the focus of this month’s in-depth analysis by the LMI division. The median annual salary is advertised as $87,802. This occupation develops, creates and modifies general computer applications software or specialized utility programs.
Software developers also analyze user needs and develop software solutions. They may design software or customize software for client use with the aim of optimizing operational efficiency, analyze and design databases within an application area, and working individually or coordinating database development as part of a team.
Specialized skills in Java and DevOps offer salary premiums based on job ads analyzed.
Alabama unemployment rate drops more than 2 points to 5.6 percent
The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased to 5.6 percent in August, down from 7.9 percent in July, according to the Alabama Department of Labor.
The figure represents 127,186 unemployed people, compared to 176,556 in July. It compares to an August 2019 rate of 2.8 percent, or 62,149 unemployed people.
“August showed a larger drop in the unemployment rate than we’ve seen for a few months,” said Alabama Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington. “We are continuing to see our initial claims drop, staying under 10,000 for the past several weeks. We regained another 22,200 jobs this month but are still down more than 86,000 from this time last year.”
Washington said that the number of people who are working or actively looking for work is at its highest level ever, which he described as a sign that people are confident that there are jobs to be found.
Gov. Kay Ivey said the numbers are good news for Alabama.
“We have worked extremely hard to open Alabama’s businesses safely, and to put our hard-working families back to work,” Ivey said in a statement. “We know that challenges remain, and we will endeavor to meet them so that we can get back to our previous, pre-pandemic record-setting employment numbers.”
All the state’s counties and metro areas experienced a decrease in unemployment rates from July to August. The most gains were seen in the government sector, the professional and business services sector and the trade, transportation and utilities sector.
Counties with the lowest unemployment rates were:
- Clay County – 3.4 percent
- Randolph, Franklin, Marshall, Cullman, Cleburne and Cherokee Counties – 3.6 percent
- Blount County – 3.7 percent
Counties with the highest unemployment rates were:
- Wilcox County – 14.8 percent
- Lowndes County – 13.8 percent
- Greene County – 10.9 percent
Major cities with the lowest unemployment rates are:
- Vestavia Hills – 3 percent
- Homewood – 3.2 percent
- Madison – 3.3 percent
Major cities with the highest unemployment rates are:
- Prichard – 15.4 percent
- Selma – 12.9 percent
- Bessemer – 10.7 percent