Unemployment declines, help still needed

Published 10:50 am Saturday, May 27, 2023

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An editorial of The Greenville Advocate

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey recently announced unemployment rates are down. The state is leading others in economic success, she said, and boasting the lowest unemployment rate in the Southeast.

But while declining unemployment is noteworthy, as Ivey points out, improving jobless rates do not necessarily mean all local citizens are and businesses are thriving.

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In Butler County, the Ministerial Association continues receiving almost daily requests for financial assistance. The group helps as often as possible, meeting a portion of some basic utility costs by families vetted by the county’s Department of Human Resources (DHR).

And, in Lowndes County, where the unemployment rate dropped almost one half percent between March and April, the Edmundite Missions Good Shepherd Center still provides food, pays utilities, gives clothing and offers job training to residents who need their assistance.

With employment rates continuing to climb, one might wonder why such ministries aren’t receiving more donations and fewer requests for assistance.

Corinna Davis, owner of Crenshaw County restaurant Coco Momma’s Fine Dining, says she struggles to find and keep employees. 

The jobless rate in Crenshaw County was down nearly one quarter percent in April, and yet servers and kitchen staff at the small-town diner come and go on a fairly regular basis.

Davis attributes the problem to unfavorable work hours common to the hospitality industry. Her husband, who owns a construction business operating Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., finds it easier to keep a full staff.

Some experts say unemployment rates do not represent a true picture of joblessness, since unemployed workers are limited in how long they can collect unemployment benefits.

Many factors contribute to a person’s need for assistance. Similarly, businesses face challenges maintaining a stable workforce due to a variety of factors too.

It is noteworthy that Alabama is well on the way to having the lowest unemployment rate in the nation. Just as important, is the fact that organizations work to meet the needs of people who need a hand up.

A community’s willingness to help when needed defines the character of its people. It’s encouraging to know organizations continue to provide needed assistance even as Alabama continues to prosper.