By Dylan Smith, Managing Editor • firstname.lastname@example.org
SCOTTSBORO, Ala. — The Alabama Department of Labor has released updated unemployment numbers amid an economic downturn caused by COVID-19.
Jackson County’s unemployment rate has risen to 13.3%, which is higher than that of all bordering counties of Madison, DeKalb, and Marshall. The new rate is up significantly from the county’s January unemployment rate of 2.7%.
There is optimism that economic conditions will take a positive turn as coronavirus-related lockdown restrictions are gradually being phased out. Last week Gov. Kay Ivey (R) announced the lifting of restrictions on movie theaters, bowling alleys, summer camps, and other entertainment businesses.
The governor’s former restrictions were highly scrutinized by a number of public officials, claiming her ‘Stay at Home’ order caused unnecessary economic damage and inadvertently harmed local businesses, while allowing corporate chains to remain open.
Corporate giants such as Walmart and Home Depot were allowed to continue operations while certain locally-owned small businesses were forced to close. One of Gov. Ivey’s chief critics was U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) as he took to Twitter in April and blasted the restrictions.
“The Governor’s stay-at-home order is too sweeping,” said Brooks. “It hurts Alabama workers, kills small business revenues, reduces tax revenue, but importantly, the order also prevents Alabamians from exercising their own individual creativity and ingenuity at safeguarding health.”
Brooks went on to say that government was picking “winners and losers”. The conservative Congressman has since expressed his gratitude of Gov. Ivey’s easing of restrictions.
State Rep. Tommy Hanes (R-Bryant), a consistent critic of government overreach, says he urged the governor’s office to use caution.
“I called the governor’s office two days before the state shut down asking her not to close down the state,” said Hanes. “I thought we ought to warn the elderly to stay at home as much as possible and ask everyone to keep their distance.”
Hanes continued, “I asked her to monitor the infection and death rates but not to shut down the state. I told her representatives that it would drive a stake through the heart of the economy.”
Hanes concluded, “I know Governor Ivey was under immense pressure and that she did what she thought was best for the protection and well being of the citizens of the State.”
Jackson County’s updated unemployment rate of 13.3% mirrors that of the state, without accounting for seasonal adjustment.