Something must be done about state’s unemployment rate

Published 10:36 pm Friday, January 22, 2010

Despite a good November, the number of unemployed Alabamians rose again in December.

The bad news wasn’t just limited to Alabama; jobless rates rose in 43 states.

In Chilton County, that number went back over 10 percent. Some 10.3 percent of able workers in our community can’t find jobs, up from 9.9 percent in November.

Almost every sector of the private market experienced job losses last year.

Manufacturing, construction, services, trade and almost every other field lost jobs, bringing Alabama’s average unemployment rate for 2009 to 9.8 percent.

Just two or three areas actually gained jobs in Alabama during the worst economic crisis in the past 70 years.

What were they? Well, it won’t come as a big surprise, but the only job gains were recorded in education and health services and government.

During this time of hardship, our government continues to grow, but what do we have to show for it?

Bigger government hasn’t created more jobs or helped those who have lost employment gain it back.

Except for November, the state’s jobless rate has increased every month for more than two years, since September 2007.

Our state and national leaders must do something to address this problem.

City and county leaders don’t have the power or resources to enact the kind of large-scale changes needed to spark growth.

At this point in an editorial column, it would be usual to offer a suggestion to fix the problem, but I don’t have one.

This one requires people a lot smarter than me to tackle.

But there are people in Montgomery and Washington who know a lot more about economics (or are suppose to) than I do, and they should have some answers and be doing a better job.

Gov. Bob Riley has thrown his support behind legislation that would offer tax credits to companies who hire unemployed workers.

Another piece of legislation proposed by the governor would give tax credits to companies that create jobs in counties with high unemployment, among other incentives.

In a press release, the governor said every year our legislators spend more time debating gambling than anything else.

“In good times and bad, it seems to be the only priority for some of them. The entire world is going through a recession right now and people in this state are truly hurting,” Riley said. We need to take action now to get our economy growing.”

People are hurting. I hope the governor’s legislation passes, along with other measures aimed at helping people — changes that garner results for citizens, and don’t just result in a bigger government.

– Justin Averette is managing editor of The Clanton Advertiser. His column appears each Wednesday and Weekend.