Alabama’s counties and municipalities will soon receive millions of dollars — some tens of millions of dollars — under the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act approved last week.
While exact guidance and rules for spending haven’t yet been issued from the U.S. Department of Treasury, the act makes clear the money can be used beyond costs specific to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’re telling them to take a breath and to begin thinking about how to best use this opportunity for legacy-type programs,” Greg Cochran, executive director of the Alabama League of Municipalities, told Alabama Daily News about the group’s guidance to cities and towns. Read more.
Alabama’s unemployment rate in the first month of 2021 was 4.3%, down from a revised December 2020 level of 4.7% and up from the pre-COVID January 2020 rate of 2.7%
“As we begin a new year, it’s encouraging to see our monthly unemployment rate drop, marking a new record low since the pandemic began,” Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington. “While we are still not where we were before this year of massive change, we are making progress. More people were employed this month, and fewer were unemployed, which is always good news.”
A proposal before the federal Office of Management and Budget would reduce the number of Metropolitan Statistical Areas in Alabama from 12 to five, a move that is not welcomed by officials of the cities losing the MSA status.
A committee of federal statistical agencies has made the proposal to OMB that would leave intact MSAs with 100,000 populations in their core cities. In Alabama, that’s Birmingham, Mobile, Montgomery, Huntsville and Tuscaloosa.
The remaining seven MSAs statewide would be reclassified as “micropolitan” statistical areas with core populations of 50,000 to 99,999. Those are Decatur, Dothan, Baldwin County, Auburn-Opelika, Florence-Muscle Shoals, Anniston-Oxford, and Gadsden.
MONTGOMERY — A new report says that while facing unprecedented impediments due to the pandemic, Alabama has been able to weather a dire employment situation but needs to make gains if it wants to meet an ambitious workforce goal.
According to the Alabama Workforce Council’s 2021 annual report released earlier this month, the state is making progress on Gov. Kay Ivey’s “Strong Start, Strong Finish” initiative to add 500,000 newly credentialed workers to the state’s workforce by 2025.
To reach the Success Plus postsecondary education attainment goal, Alabama must maintain current rates of attainment and significantly increase the number of people who enroll in programs and earn all types of postsecondary credentials, the report says.
If Ivey’s 2025 goal of adding 500,000 highly skilled employees is reached, it would mean that roughly 60% of Alabama’s workforce would hold postsecondary credentials, degrees, and certificates of value. Read more.
More on the topic:
Alabama Innovation Commission Hones Its Focus
The upcoming union vote is significant for Amazon, which has fought efforts to unionize, and the region as a whole. Read more.
Amazon could be on the verge of its first unionized warehouse in the U.S. If workers at the Alabama facility vote yes next month, they would turn a new page both for the company and the region.
Today, Jefferson County picked up where the federal government left off, covering the cost of employees taking off because they’ve been exposed to or contracted the novel coronavirus. Following its committee meeting today, commissioners reconvened their Jan. 7 commission meeting to retroactively extend what had been provided under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Read more.
The Pentagon has selected Huntsville’s Redstone Arsenal as the headquarters for the nation’s new U.S. Space Command.
“We will make you proud of your decision,’’ Huntsville mayor Tommy Battle said Wednesday in a statement. “We look forward to the partnership with the U.S. Space Command and pledge to make it a success from day one.’’
The Air Force said Huntsville is the “preferred and reasonable’’ site pending a required environmental impact study — considered a routine process —
that should be finished by 2023. Six cities were in contention for the selection. Read more.
An organizer of a virtual gathering of bankers, regulators, developers and entrepreneurs acknowledged that redlining has been a deterrent to development in some communities.
But Irvin M. Henderson said Thursday’s event, sponsored by Birmingham community development corporation Urban Impact, was aimed at erasing that practice and creating a more fertile environment to improve communities that had been redlined.
“We know that there are neighborhoods, and Ensley and the downtown historic district are two of them, where there has been redlining,” Henderson said. “What this meeting is about is to work with the regulators and the bankers.”
Labor officials cite safety concerns as the primary reason for moving to a phone-based system. Read more.