Immigrants in Alabama are responsible for more than $900 million in federal taxes and more than $350 million in state and local taxes, according to a study published Monday that assessed the economic impacts of immigrants in each state.
Of Alabama’s 4.9 million residents, 162,567 of them, or 3 percent, were foreign-born as of 2018, according to statistics compiled by the American Immigration Council, which advocates for immigration reform.
Alabama residents in immigrant-led households had $3.7 billion in spendable income, the study states.
Of the state’s immigrant population, 34 percent was undocumented in 2016. That is equal to 1 percent of the state’s total population. Undocumented immigrants represented 2 percent of the state’s workforce that year. They paid an estimated $54.1 million in federal taxes and $37.6 million in state and local taxes in 2018.
Roughly 67,000 of the state’s immigrants, or 41 percent, were naturalized citizens as of 2018. Three-quarters reported speaking English “well” or “very well,” according to the study.
A third had a college degree or higher. By comparison, 25 percent of native-born residents of Alabama have that level of education. Twenty-seven percent of immigrants had less than a high school diploma compared to 13 percent of native-born Alabamians.
Mexico is the most common country of origin at 27 percent of immigrants. China and India each account for 6 percent, followed by Guatemala and Germany with 5 percent each.
The industries employing the largest shares of the immigrant population are construction, services other than public administration, accommodation and food services, agriculture and manufacturing.
There were 4,000 active recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA, as of 2019. Of those eligible for DACA, 58 percent had applied. These groups combined were responsible for $11.4 million in state and local taxes, or 3.2 percent of the total amount paid by foreign-born residents.
Immigrants represented 6 percent of the state’s business owners and generated $319.8 million in business income in 2018, the study said.
Alabama Arise calls Trump unemployment order “Band-Aid over a gaping economic wound”
An Alabama nonprofit that advocates for low-income residents says that President Donald Trump’s executive actions to extend federal aid to Americans affected by the pandemic falls far short of what is needed.
“These executive actions put a Band-Aid over a gaping economic wound,” Chris Sanders, communications director for Alabama Arise, said in a statement on Tuesday. “They don’t stem the tide of evictions or extend rental or mortgage assistance to help people stay in their homes. They don’t increase SNAP assistance to help millions of struggling families keep food on the table. And they don’t provide federal relief to help states avoid layoffs and cuts to education, Medicaid and other vital services.”
Sanders noted that weekly federal aid to people who lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic would drop from $600 to $300, with states required to contribute another $100. That would be an undue burden on “cash-strapped” states like Alabama that have lost significant tax revenues, Sanders said.
The aid would only last a few weeks without new legislation, he added. Sanders said Congress could eliminate that uncertainty by extending the $600 weekly unemployment aid into 2021.
Trump’s orders, announced by the White House on Saturday, were meant to bypass a stalemate in Congress over pandemic-related benefits. They are expected to face legal challenges, which Sanders noted they may not survive.
“Even if they would, they’re inadequate to address the size and scope of suffering across Alabama and across our country,” he said. “There’s simply no replacement for a bipartisan relief package. Congress must step up quickly to ease the suffering and help struggling families make ends meet.”
Alabama Arise calls itself a coalition of congregations, organizations and individuals united in a belief that poverty in Alabama is a result of public policy. It promotes policies it says can improve the lives of residents with low incomes.
Opinion | Alabama’s workers deserve better than McConnell’s inadequate COVID-19 proposal
America is suffering from an unprecedented pandemic and the economic collapse it has created. Nearly three months ago, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act, a comprehensive COVID-19 relief bill. Right now, that bill is sitting untouched on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s desk as working people are suffering.
Senator McConnell’s told us to “pause” after the HEROES Act passed, proving he either did not understand how serious this pandemic is or did not care to. Regardless, the McConnell proposal is $2 trillion too short and 73 days too late.
Working people need real relief, not this piecemeal proposal.
For example, Senator McConnell insists he will block any further COVID-19 relief legislation unless it contains a provision that immunizes employers from liability if any working person contracts COVID-19—or God forbid dies from it. We know that now more than ever worker safety should be a top priority, but McConnell continues to put big businesses before people.
Unlike the HEROES Act, Senator Sen. McConnell’s proposal does not call for an OSHA emergency temporary standard. Last week, AL.com reported that out of the 272 state OSHA complaints related to COVID-19 workplace safety, the federal agency conducted just seven on-site inspections. And six out of those seven inspections were the result of a workplace fatality. If Alabama’s experience with COVID-19 in the workplace has taught us anything, it’s that our working people need an enforceable standard now more than ever.
Like every state in the nation, Alabama is suffering from an unemployment crisis. An estimated 7.5 percent of Alabama workers are currently unemployed through no fault of their own. While the HEROES Act would extend federal unemployment benefits, McConnell’s proposal would cut the recently-expired $600 weekly unemployment insurance benefit to just $200. That represents a major drop in the living standards of thousands of families across our state. That money is a lifeline to pay for necessities, including rent, groceries, and prescriptions.
We can’t afford to let anyone fall through the cracks. And recovery down the road requires us to keep working people whole right now. That’s why Alabama’s labor movement has been taking part in a nationwide effort to call on Senator Jones and Senator Shelby to pass the HEROES Act. Across the country, union members and leaders made over 50,000 calls to members of Congress demanding action, and we’re not slowing down until we get a bill that benefits
We all know Alabama is home to great football, incredible food and southern hospitality. But if we go by the number of new cases per million people, Alabama is also currently home to the fourth-worst outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States. The percentage of positive tests is more than 21 percent and rising. We demand and deserve better. Alabama’s working people are acting heroically and resiliently to beat this pandemic, but we cannot do this alone—and the clock is ticking. The Senate needs to pass the HEROES Act to save lives and livelihoods.
New unemployment claims continue to drop
There were 11,692 unemployment claims filed in Alabama last week, down from 17,439 the previous week, according to the Alabama Department of Labor.
Seventy-six percent of the claims from July 26 to Aug. 1 were related to COVID-19, according to the Alabama Department of Labor. That compares to 89 percent the week before.
New claims increased over the first half of July but declined in the second half.
Alabama Power is returning $100 million to customers
The Alabama Public Service Commission approved a plan Tuesday to credit Alabama Power Company customers on their October bills. The move returns approximately $100 million to Alabama Power Company customers.
“Putting money back into the pockets of hard-working Alabamians is one of the ways we can help on the road to recovery,” Public Service Commission President Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh said on social media. “Alabama Power to refund $100 million to customers.”
The typical Alabama Power customer will receive a $25 credit on their October bill. The newly approved credit is on top of a 3 percent rate reduction that customers are already enjoying in 2020. This previous rate cuts and the October credit amount to about $300 million in savings for Alabama Power customers this year.
“We appreciate the commission voting today to expedite this credit for our customers,” said Richard Hutto, Alabama Power’s vice president of regulatory affairs.
The global economic collapse due to the COVID-19 pandemic has hurt people across Alabama. It has also dramatically lowered fuel costs for Alabama Power Company’s plants.
A typical residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month is expected to receive a credit of $25. Customers who use more energy will receive a larger credit. Customers who use less power receive a smaller credit but had a smaller bill to begin with. Adjustments to fuel costs are typically calculated at the end of the year, with savings passed to customers beginning in January, but due to the economic downturn and pandemic-related job losses, Alabama Power and the PSC are rushing that money to Alabama families and businesses.
“Many of our customers have been hurt by COVID-19. We hope this credit will provide some additional relief at this difficult time,” Hutto explained.
The 3 percent rate reduction, that took effect in January, was based on earlier estimates of lower costs for fuel and other expenses for 2020. The rate reduction alone equates to about a $4.50-per-month reduction for the typical residential customer.
“Our employees are working every day to keep costs low while providing industry-leading reliability for our customers,” Hutto added.
Alabama Power said in a statement that their total retail price is below the national average and has been for decades. When adjusted for inflation, the price customers pay for electricity is lower today than it was 30 years ago.
Alabama Power has been assisting customers in other ways during the COVID-19 outbreak. Since the start of the pandemic, the company has suspended disconnects and late payment fees for customers hurt by the coronavirus.
Cavanaugh is seeking another term as president of the Commission.
“It is crucial that we have strong pro-jobs conservatives supporting President Trump’s agenda at all levels of government,” Cavanaugh said on social media.