Author: Virginia Martin

BirminghamWatch Recommends

Alabama Nurses Paid 8% Less Than Nurses in Surrounding States, Shortage Continues (ABC 33/40)
New Documentary Examines Life of Alabama Native Helen Keller (Associated Press)
Alabama Finally Approaching Pre-Delta COVID Levels: Week in Review (
Inflation in the economy today is different. Here are four charts that can explain why. (Washington Post)
Alabama Seeks to Purge Racist Sections of Constitution (Associated Press)

Despite Low Unemployment, State’s Economy Suffers From Workforce Participation Slump

MONTGOMERY — Alabama’s 3.1% unemployment rate is the lowest in the Southeast and among the lowest in the country. State leaders have repeatedly pointed to this impressive mark as a sign of the state’s economic recovery from the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw unemployment soar to nearly 14% last year.

Yet, employers across the state are struggling to find enough workers to fill jobs, forcing some to cut back business hours or production.

Why the economic disparity? It could have to do with the number of Alabamians actually participating in the workforce, a figure that has shrunk during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more.

Britt Dominates in Fundraising for U.S. Senate Race

Katie Boyd Britt, former chief of staff to U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, holds a huge fundraising advantage over U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks and three other candidates for the Republican nomination to succeed Shelby in Alabama’s 2022 GOP primary election, according to reports filed Friday with the Federal Elections Commission.

Brooks, who is giving up his 5th District seat after five terms representing the Tennessee Valley area, held a commanding lead in recent polls and has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump.

In financial reports for the three-month period ended Sept. 31, Britt listed $1.53 million in net contributions during the period and $3.76 million since she resigned as president and CEO of the Business Council of Alabama and entered the race during the summer.

She reported expenditures of $394,448 during the quarter and had a cash balance of $3.34 million at the end of September.

Brooks reported net contributions of $663,074 during the three-month period and a total of $1.79 million overall. He listed expenditures of $507,623 and an account balance of $1.86 million. He had entered the race with $1.1 million left over from previous campaigns for the House of Representatives.

Montgomery business executive Lynda Blanchard, who served as Trump’s ambassador to Slovenia, reported contributions of $1,958 but listed refunds of $12,100 for a net of minus $10,142 during the quarter. She made loans totaling $5.11 million to her campaign earlier this year and ended September with a cash balance of $4.51 million. Read more.

Sources Should Be Sources, Not Editors

I’d have posted this sooner but I was waiting on Adam Schefter to edit it.

Schefter, a National Football League “Insider” reporter for ESPN, became a target of widespread derision within the journalism community this week when the LA Times reported that Schefter sent an entire draft of a pending news story about NFL collective bargaining to a key source for review. It happened 10 years ago but is in the news now because Schefter’s action was revealed in emails that are part of current court litigation involving the key source. Read more.

Reapportionment Special Session Oct. 28, Maps May Not Be Released Until Next Week

Lawmakers will be back in Montgomery starting Oct. 28 to decide new congressional, state Senate and House and state school board district boundaries in a special session.

The proposed maps, still being drafted, aren’t likely to be made public until late next week, raising some concerns about how much community reaction could be heard in a fast-paced special session. Read more.

Committee Recompiling State Constitution Close to Final Vote

The commission deciding what changes should be made to Alabama’s constitution is close to a final vote, with most members agreeing Wednesday about alterations to three sections containing racist language.

The group decided to take another week to review all of the final suggested revisions before taking a final vote, most likely during the special session on reapportionment, which could happen as soon as the last week of October.

“I just want to make sure that we’re all on the same page because at the end of the day, I’m going to take this document back to the Legislature, and I want to say that this is a document that was bipartisan,” said Rep. Merika Coleman, D-Pleasant Grove, who chairs the commission. Read more.

Who’s Running? 2022 Alabama House Races Update

There are about 20 open Alabama House seats ahead of the 2022 election cycle and several incumbents have announced primary challengers. Here’s an update on who is and isn’t running. Candidates have until Jan. 28 to qualify. Meanwhile, legislative districts could change, some likely significantly, when lawmakers later this month or early next month redraw lines with new census data.

GOP Rematch in HD73?

Recently elected Rep. Kenneth Paschal, R-Pelham, may again face Republican Leigh Hulsey of Helena for House District 73 seat in Shelby County. Read more.

The Decline of Delta: Alabama’s COVID Case Daily Average Falls Below 1,000, Down 86% From Peak

The effects of the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus have subsided in Alabama almost as quickly as they peaked.

In a BirminghamWatch analysis of the state’s pandemic data, the 7-day moving average of new daily cases has fallen below the 1,000 mark, six weeks after it surpassed 5,500 — the highest reading since the pandemic began in March 2020.

The Alabama Department of Public Health reported on Wednesday that the 7-day average stands at 893.14 new cases per day. That reading comes a day after dropping below 1,000 and is now roughly one-seventh of the record set Sept. 1.

By comparison, the recent Delta surge took seven weeks to skyrocket from the previous low point of 121 cases per day on July 7 to the peak. And though the current level is still considerably higher than that low point, the downward direction of the curve is very close to the inverse of the upward slope in summer. Read more.