Tag: Economy

Baby or Puppy? Both Are Relatively Cheap in Alabama

Baby or puppy?

Some people answer the question of whether to have a baby or do a practice run with a puppy by going with what’s in their hearts.

Another consideration, as heartless as it sounds, is cost. Potential grandparent wishes aside, a recent study delineates the costs of having a baby or puppy for the first year of both their little lives. 

“Whether a puppy or a baby is right for you will ultimately be a highly personal decision that we could never hope to answer for you, but the cost cannot be ignored and those costs fluctuate wildly by state,” according to a study done by Honestpaws.com, an online retail outlet offering pet medical information.

Alabama leads the nation as the cheapest state to have a baby and care for it during the first year. It’s also a pretty cheap state to get and care for a puppy that first year. Read more. 

City Leaders Watch Business Licenses for COVID-19 Impact

In a March presentation on how the city of Birmingham’s finances are faring one year into the pandemic, city finance director Lester Smith said business license filings were down about 500 in the first 2.5 months of the year compared to the same time last year.

“My concern is that differentiation between those numbers may be lost businesses, but we don’t know that yet, so we have to continue to monitor it,” Smith said late last month.

Municipal business licenses are usually due early each year and have been an anticipated gauge of the true economic impact of COVID-19.

“The overall concern is that in the municipalities that have seen a downturn in license renewals, is that you have lost some jobs and loss of business investment in your community,” Alabama League of Municipalities Executive Director Greg Cochran told Alabama Daily News. “Ensuring that businesses stayed healthy during the pandemic and stayed afloat financially was a difficult tight rope for a lot of them to maneuver down.” Read more.

Eco Groups File Claim That Alabama Power Charges Unjust Fees on Solar Power

Conservation groups have filed a petition with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, claiming that Alabama Power has imposed “unjust” charges on customers using solar power.

The Southern Environmental Law Center, along with Birmingham law firm Ragsdale, LLC, filed the petition this month on behalf of environmental advocacy group GASP and four Alabama Power customers with solar installations. The petition calls on FERC to compel the Alabama Public Service Commission to enforce federal laws protecting solar customers from unfair treatment by their utility. Read more.

Alabama’s Unemployment Drops to 3.8%

Alabama’s unemployment rate for March was 3.8%, down from 4% in February.

That compares to a record-low 2.6% in March 2020, right before COVID-19 and precautions to stop its spread led to a double-digit spike in unemployment.

March’s rate represents 84,670 unemployed people, compared to 91,041 in February and 57,895 in March 2020. Alabama is comfortably below the national average of 6%, the Alabama Department of Labor said this morning. Read more.

Bill to Allow Churches and Small Businesses to Stay Open During Emergencies Goes to Governor

The Alabama Legislature on Thursday approved a bill that would allow churches and small businesses to remain open during states of emergency. It now goes to the governor.

House Bill 103 by Rep. Jamie Kiel, R-Russellville, would allow businesses and places of worship to remain open as long as they comply with any emergency order, rules or regulations issued by the governor and state or local agencies. It would do away with the idea of “essential businesses.”

Kiel has said small local retailers shouldn’t have been forced to close last year under public health orders while big box stores remained open.

Democrats called the bill dangerous and said it could lead to super-spreader events in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, led Senate Democrats in a filibuster of the bill, arguing it put business interests over public health. Read more.

What Labor Wins And Losses In The South Can Tell Us About the Amazon Union Vote

The vote on whether or not to unionize the Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Ala. may seem like a once-in-a-lifetime chance for a big union win in the South. Yet union organizers had an almost identical opportunity just four years ago in Canton, Miss.

Back then, Nissan assembly plant workers attracted global pro-labor support. But similar to Amazon, Nissan pushed back hard, determined to keep a union off its floor. 

What happened in Canton, in other southern union elections and in the four years since can give us clues about what to expect from the Amazon vote. 
Read more.

Take a Breath and Start Planning: Alabama Cities, Counties Getting Millions in Federal Aid

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 Drops, but Still Above Pre-COVID Level

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.”
Read more.

Alabama Would Lose Seven Metropolitan Statistical Areas Under Federal Proposal

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.
Read more.