9 months ago

‘Breaking record after record’: Alabama shattering employment milestones monthly

Alabama continues to set new jobs-related records and now boasts the largest over-the-year unemployment rate drop in the United States.

Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington on Friday announced that the Yellowhammer State has yet again set a new record low unemployment rate, along with four additional milestones.

The state’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted August unemployment rate was 3.1%, down from July’s then-historic rate of 3.3%, and well below August 2018’s rate of 3.9%.

August’s rate represented 2,184,511 employed persons, also a new record high, measuring 68,033 more than last year’s count and 12,757 more than last month’s count.

In a statement, Governor Kay Ivey said, “Not only can we be proud of the fact that Alabama is breaking record after record; but we can also be proud that more of our good men and women are gaining employment.”

The Yellowhammer State has now matched or surpassed the national annual job growth rate for the past seven months.

“Alabama has made significant progress regarding our economy,” Ivey added. “Not only are we putting people to work, but their earnings are increasing, and our industries are growing. Even with all this headway, we realize we must continue exhausting our efforts to make sure that all Alabamians who want a job have a job, and we won’t stop until we achieve that goal.”

August’s historic numbers came after Alabama broke four records the month previous and five in June.

“Along with this brand-new record low unemployment rate, Alabama continues to break other records as well,” said Washington.

“More people are working in Alabama than ever before, a record we’ve broken every single month this year,” he continued. “More than 68,000 Alabamians are working today that weren’t last year, and that’s great news. Fewer people are unemployed in Alabama than ever before, and our workforce is larger than it’s ever been, with consecutive growth for the past eight months.”

August’s unemployment rate represents 70,652 unemployed persons, a new record low, down from 75,101 in July and down from 86,212 in 2018.

The civilian labor force increased in August to a record high 2,255,163, up 8,308 from July’s count and up 52,473 from August 2018.

“Additionally, our jobs count reached a record high for the fourth time this year, gaining more than 37,000 jobs over the year, representing a job growth percentage of 1.8%, which, yet again, surpassed the nation’s job growth – all while Alabamians are also seeing growth in their earnings,” concluded Washington.

Year over year, wage and salary employment grew by 37,300, with gains in the professional and business services sector (+9,900); the leisure and hospitality sector (+6,600); and the trade, transportation and utilities sector (+5,200), among others.

Wage and salary employment grew in August by 5,900. Monthly gains were seen in the government sector (+5,300); the professional and business services sector (+3,000); and the trade, transportation and utilities sector (+1,900), among others.

Average weekly earnings increased $27.05 since August 2018 and $8.97 since July.

The rising tide is lifting boats across Alabama, too.

All 67 counties saw their unemployment rates decrease over the year, and 66 of 67 counties saw their rates decrease or remain the same over the month.

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates in August were Shelby County at 2.1%; Marshall and Madison Counties at 2.3%; and Morgan, Limestone and Elmore Counties at 2.4%.

Counties with the highest unemployment rates were Wilcox County at 6.9%, Clarke County at 5.9% and Greene County at 5.8%.

While still the highest, Wilcox County’s unemployment rate is down 3.1% over-the-year.

Major cities with the lowest unemployment rates were Vestavia Hills at 1.8%; Northport and Homewood at 1.9%; and Alabaster and Hoover at 2.0%.

Major cities with the highest unemployment rates were Selma at 6.5%, Prichard at 5.5% and Anniston at 4.1%.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

3 hours ago

State Sen. Ward on Confederate monument controversy: ‘You can’t let mob rule dictate any of the policy, one way or another’

Given the subject matter related to the nationwide protests and demonstrations underway in the name George Floyd’s death while in the custody of Minneapolis police, it was inevitable that the controversial subject of Confederate monuments in Alabama was to be raised.

In 2017, the Alabama legislature passed a law requiring local governments to obtain permission from the state before moving or renaming buildings and monuments older than 40 years.

During an interview with Huntsville radio’s WVNN, State Sen. Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) weighed in on the law, which is under scrutiny as the city of Birmingham has acted in violation of the law and removed a monument dedicated to Confederate soldiers and sailors that was on display in the city’s Linn Park.

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“It’s a civil penalty, not a criminal — so in other words, you can’t hold a city liable for a crime but you can penalize them for civil means,” he said. “My interpretation of the law sponsored by Sen. Gerald Allen, and was voted on pretty overwhelmingly by the House and the Senate, is that it is a $25,000 fine to remove historical monument — and I think there is a period of time back it had to be constructed. Anything before 1968 or 1970 … it is considered a historical monument. Therefore, in order to remove it, you had to appeal to this executive commission set up and appointed by the governor.”

“Birmingham can pay the $25,000 fine,” Ward explained. “They have the means to do that. I think a lot of your smaller cities that $25,000 penalty would be considered a pretty hefty fine for some of these local city budgets, smaller towns.”

Ward said there has been a movement in the past to strengthen the law by enhancing the penalties for violations, but maintains the law is still a civil statute and not a criminal statute.

“You can’t make it criminal, but you could look at civil penalties if you want to enhance the civil penalties,” he added. “I believe Senator Allen has said he wants to look at increasing somehow some of those penalties. If you’re going to change the law in order to strengthen it — that’s how you would do it. At the same time, before we get too bogged down in the whole debate on monuments, we also got a lot of other issues we need to deal with, as well.”

The Shelby County Republican lawmaker warned against the terms of the law being altered as a reaction to “mob rule,” which could threaten the system of government if allowed.

“You can’t let mob rule dictate any of the policy, one way or another,” Ward said. “You’re for or against the monuments, in my opinion. If you start doing that, you’re throwing your whole republican form of government out the window. I mean, the idea is we have laws. Change the laws if you don’t like the monument law, change the law. Make it stronger or make it weaker. But if we start saying, ‘Well, we got some people that are starting to riot. We’ve got to ignore or change some of the laws on the books to adapt to that. I think that’s a very dangerous precedent.”

What could happen going forward with the Alabama Monuments Preservation Act is uncertain, according to Ward. However, he said he expects there to be a continued debate between now and the lead-up to the 2021 legislative session.

“I don’t know there’s an appetite to do that,” he said. “There’s a couple on the Democratic side of the aisle who want it reversed. I know Senator Allen on the Republican side has spoken about increasing, making it stronger. We can’t go back into regular session until February 2021. I’m sure there will be a lot of debate between now and then as to what happens with this particular law.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly and host of Huntsville’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN.

3 hours ago

Attorney general backs Wednesday tear gas usage by law enforcement officers in Huntsville — ‘Crowd was found to have backpacks full of weapons’

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall on Thursday afternoon released a statement supporting the dispersal of a crowd in Huntsville the day previous by law enforcement officers.

Officers on Wednesday evening used tear gas and pepper spray to break up the crowd after they reportedly refused to comply with orders to disperse. At least one police officer was injured by the so-called protesters, and a reporter on the scene said objects were thrown at law enforcement vehicles. One local business was damaged.

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle on Thursday morning released a statement about what occurred, noting that “people who were not part of our community” were responsible for the unpermitted gathering that led to the clash.

A release from the attorney general’s office said Marshall supports “law enforcement in their efforts to protect the public from violence spurred by anarchists attempting to hijack peaceful protests.”

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Given the infrequency with which tear gas is employed, the attorney general’s office explained that Marshall believed it was his duty to examine what necessitated its use in Huntsville.

A review of the incident by Marshall resulted in him backing the law enforcement officers’ usage of the non-lethal tool.

“The appropriateness of police actions must always be judged by the circumstances in which they occur,” Marshall said in a statement. “After talking with the Huntsville Police Department and the Madison County Sheriff’s Department, I am well-satisfied that the actions taken by police were reasonable under the circumstances.”

“After a peaceful protest, hosted by the local chapter of the NAACP—which abided by the law and should not be blamed for what came after—hundreds of hostile demonstrators ignored multiple requests by law enforcement to leave the area. Rather than leaving, those demonstrators put on gear and readied for battle,” he outlined. “After an hour and a half of warnings and with daylight dwindling, law enforcement dispersed the crowd with the least amount of force possible and using no lethal weapons. This, despite the fact that the crowd was found to have backpacks full of weapons and spray paint, and which attacked officers with rocks and bottles full of frozen water.”

The attorney general’s office stressed that they have zero tolerance for aggressive acts against law enforcement.

“Alabama is fortunate in that most protests taking place in recent days have been conducted peacefully,” Marshall concluded. “At the same time, over the last 10 days—and even as we speak—law enforcement intelligence from around our state indicates the intent of some to infiltrate protests with violence, property damage, and targeting of law enforcement officers.”

RELATED: Huntsville mayor: ‘People who were not part of our community’ led Wednesday protest which resulted in tear gas usage, police officer injury

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

4 hours ago

Jerry Carl endorsed by Coastal Alabama business, civic leaders

Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl on Thursday announced that he has been endorsed for Congress by Coastal 150, a group of community leaders who work to further the mission of the Coastal Alabama Partnership to advance the interests of coastal Alabama.

In a statement, Coastal 150 executive director Wiley Blankenship said, “Our members believe that Jerry Carl is the right person to serve our region in Congress. He understands our unique needs and supports our shared vision for coastal Alabama.”

“We expect that Mr. Carl will represent coastal Alabama well and we look forward to working with him in Washington,” Blankenship continued. “The experience, character and leadership that he brings to the office is what we believe is necessary to solve the challenges facing our region and our nation.”

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Carl is running against former State Sen. Bill Hightower (R-Mobile) in the Republican primary runoff to be held on July 14. They are vying for the congressional seat currently occupied by U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (AL-01).

“Coastal 150 represents many of the job creators in south Alabama, and I am thankful for their endorsement,” Carl commented. “I have worked closely with these business leaders to foster economic growth and a job-friendly environment. They understand the unique needs we have here in south Alabama and know what it will take to get our economy back on track. As a small businessman who has created jobs right here in our community, I am honored to have their support and will fight tirelessly alongside Trump to get our economy open again.”

This comes shortly after Carl received the endorsement of the Alabama Farmers Federation’s political arm, FarmPAC. He has also been endorsed by the third and fourth place finishers in the AL-01 GOP primary, State Rep. Chris Pringle (R-Mobile) and businessman Wes Lambert.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

5 hours ago

Protests don’t have to end in tear gas

The latest contentious protest in Alabama took place in Huntsville Wednesday night as the city made it clear that it would not be tolerating lawlessness and open-hostility in the street.

How long can they hold this position? Time will tell.

Before we get started, let’s take a second to remember all of this is predicated on the unanimous agreement among citizens and politicians alike that an event that happened over 2,000+ miles away was horrendous, illegal and needs to be aggressively punished to the full extent of the law.

No one in Huntsville has expressed a different opinion or begrudged anyone for being outraged.

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This was not a clear lie, much like the Michael Brown situation in Ferguson. This was clearly a situation where a man was killed at the hands of the police while in restraints and unarmed. Period.

But this is still a society where free speech is not only important — it is necessary.

That means that the government will not infringe on your right to assemble and voice your opinion. The value of that opinion is irrelevant. Klan members and Nazis have utilized it because unpopular speech is what needs to be protected.

Stating that George Floyd should be alive is not controversial in any way, and no one has pretended otherwise.

As protests across the country indicate, a multi-racial cross-section of America has taken to the streets to share this opinion.

But, and this is important, I can’t walk into a judge’s chambers or scream my opinion while running down the freeway expressing it as cars try to avoid me.

In Huntsville and everywhere else, you need a permit to close city streets, and the city appears to have even been lax on that in this matter.

Trust me, I know something about this:


Obviously, you can just walk in the road and force the authorities to stop you. Maybe they will give you “space to destroy,” maybe they won’t.

Much like Monday’s protest, Wednesday’s protest ended with most protesters going home. Both were followed with a standoff that ended in tear gas (quibble if you want, that’s what it was).

Why? Because after the protest, a portion of the protesters moved on while a remaining mob decided they were going to stand in the street until the cops made them move.

They wanted negative attention, and they got it.

Where does this end?

Huntsville’s downtown area was already shut down for two days this week. Is this to be expected every other day until those protesting declare we have racial equality? It’s unlikely we ever get there.

So at some point, the city will be required to open up the street and the protesters will have to move on.

The warning was given repeatedly. It was obvious that the crowd was not going to leave the road until a reaction from law enforcement was obtained.

So they got one. Tear gas was deployed, things were thrown, an officer was hurt and 24 non-protesters were arrested.

Did this advance the cause of the actual protests? No. It hurt them.

Was disruption the goal after the fact? Probably, so mission accomplished.

Citizens do not want this strife in their city, especially when they already agree with the cause.

Most Americans know we can always be better as a society.

Most Americans know we have come a long way from where we have been.

Most Americans want peace and fairness but they also want law and order in their communities.

Some in the media are sitting at home egging-on the protesters and hoping for more lawlessness.

But that is about them. Bad behavior at protests and after them emboldens the elected officials and law enforcement to give less leeway to actual protesters. It will also make citizens equate the actual protesters to the rioters and looters we see all day on cable news, and no one should want that.

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 AM weekdays on WVNN.

6 hours ago

Alabama Democratic Party chair calls on Jefferson Davis state holiday to be abolished

State Rep. Chris England (D-Tuscaloosa), the chair of the Alabama Democratic Party, on Thursday sent a letter to Governor Kay Ivey in support of ending the state holiday that recognizes Jefferson Davis’ birthday.

The holiday this year was on Monday, June 1; it is recognized on the first Monday in June of every year in accordance with state law (Section 1-3-8, Code of Alabama 1975).

In his letter, England requested that Ivey include amending this section of state law if she calls a special session this year. The 2020 regular session of the legislature ended last month.

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A spokesperson for Ivey’s office told Yellowhammer News in response to England’s letter, “That is a conversation that would have to begin with the Legislature. However, Governor Ivey is certainly open to sitting down with lawmakers to discuss this proposal.”

England has been a member of the state legislature since November 2006.

Yellowhammer News’ search of online legislative archives found that no bill has been introduced during England’s tenure in the legislature to end Alabama’s state holiday recognizing Jefferson Davis’ birthday.

Before Republicans took control of the legislature in 2010, both the Alabama Senate and the House had been majority-Democrat since 1868.

State Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) and State Sen. Shay Shelnutt (R-Trussville) brought a bill in 2015 that would have made both Jefferson Davis’ birthday holiday and Confederate Memorial Day unpaid state holidays, unless decided otherwise by the governor each year. The holidays are currently paid. That bill passed out of committee but never received a vote on the Senate floor.

Jefferson Davis, a member of the Democratic Party, served as president of the Confederacy from 1861-1865.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn