Study ranks Alabama in top 10 for jobless recovery

Alabama ranks sixth in the nation for the extent to which its unemployment rate has rebounded since last year, according to a study released Tuesday by personal finance website WalletHub. The state’s unemployment rate is 3.7%, the seventh lowest of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, and well below the national rate of 6.7%.

The study assessed changes in unemployment data in December 2020, the most recent month for which the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and the US Department of Labor provide data, compared to December 2019 and January 2020.

Alabama saw a 54% increase in continued assured employment, the fourth-best recovery in the nation by this metric.

National statistics show unemployment is felt differently by race and age, according to WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez. It is 5.9% for whites and 9.3% for blacks. For people aged 45 to 54, it is 5.3%. For people aged 20 to 24, it is 11.2%.

“It makes sense that people who have been in the workforce longer have greater job stability, but we should be concerned about the difficult conditions facing young people,” Gonzalez said.

For those who have been unemployed for six months or more, Gonzalez recommended first exhausting all available benefits and resources offered by states.

“People who are out of benefits and cannot rely on their savings should critically examine their expenses and temporarily cut out anything that is not essential, as well as determine if they can get temporary relief. of their bills through the billing hardship program,” she said. “Some people may need to borrow money, but should avoid extremely expensive options like payday loans, unless this is absolutely necessary.”

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The report included interviews with a panel of experts who answered questions about the economic recovery and the pandemic. Their consensus was that the best route to a profitable rebound is federal aid. States and municipalities are limited in what they can do because they are required to balance their budgets each year, said Michael Leeds, an economics professor at Temple University.

“That is why the failure of Congress to act would be nothing less than a dereliction of duty by our elected representatives,” Leeds said.

Anne Marie Lofaso, a law professor at West Virginia University, said the best chance for economic recovery depends on a coordinated national effort to ensure public health, which involves widespread vaccinations, personal precautions like masks and social distancing and strategic shelter in place. orders. That can be a challenge for a society that prefers freedom to the kind of “community solution” that Lofaso says is needed to ultimately repair the economic fallout from the pandemic.

“If the government acts too late, the economy will suffer and it will take even longer – possibly years – to get back to normal,” she said.

David C. Yamada, director of the New Workplace Institute at Boston’s Suffolk University, said state and local authorities should focus on helping the hardest-hit businesses, institutions and people.

“This should include financial assistance to support reopening and new hires, appropriate tax relief, technical and public health assistance to reopen safely and effectively, and facilitating affordable health care,” he said. declared. “States should also allow eligibility for short-time work assistance for the underemployed, as it is likely that in many occupations, new part-time jobs will outnumber new full-time jobs over the course of the year. of this period.”

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