Signs point to improving economy
I am certain that at some point during the past several months, you or someone you know has heard that the American economy is stalled. There will be those who have tried to convince you that job growth has grown stagnant, industry is abandoning the United States, and that we're not making any progress.
This certainly sounds frightening and under normal circumstances would be a cause for concern.
Unfortunately for the naysayers – and fortunately for the American people – this news is simply not true.
In the past two weeks, we have received further news on the economy from both the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the U.S. Department of Labor that provides further proof that the economic policies and legislation passed by Congress during the past several years are continuing to yield strong benefits.
To begin with, the national unemployment rate for the month of May fell to 5.1 percent. While this continues to be the lowest average unemployment rate since the presidency of Richard Nixon, this number is also significant because it represents a return to the unemployment mark in place just prior to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
In Alabama, I might add, the unemployment rate is far lower than the national average and presently stands at 4.4 percent.
Additionally, the month of May witnessed an increase in non-farm payroll jobs of 78,000. While this is not the number many analysts would have expected or were hoping for in that month, it is far from meeting the rhetoric being tossed about that uses words such as "disappointing."
One of the other significant news items released this past week was that the year-to-date federal deficit is presently $73 billion less than this same period last year. Without question this demonstrates that the reductions in income tax signed into law in 2001 and 2003, the increasing revenue in the federal coffers, and a decrease in federal spending are all combining to dramatically decrease the growth of the deficit.
I can't begin to tell you the number of cards, letters, phone calls, and e-mails my colleagues and I receive each week from our constituents telling us, "Stop spending all of this money! We need to get the deficit down!"
To each of you, I can say that we are by no means where we want to be in terms of the deficit; however, the hard work of Congress has resulted in a savings to the American taxpayer of $73 billion.
By no means are we in south Alabama where we want to be. There are still several towns in the six counties of the district who have yet to experience the benefits of an increase in the number of not only jobs, but better jobs with better pay and benefits for potential employees and their families.
Good things are happening, and I am proud to be involved in an ongoing effort with local and state government officials, community leaders, and economic development experts to attract new jobs and industry to the First District.
Currently, Brookley Field in Mobile is one of the four finalists in a nationwide competition to secure an EADS-North America aircraft production facility.
Several of our local shipyards are in the process of expanding their facilities with new infrastructure and new manpower to compete for contracts on new defense-related ships and hardware.
Officials with Clarke County have been successful in attracting a new Louisiana-based timber product company to their area, and Huntsville-based AC, Inc. has secured a major defense contract that will provide many new jobs in Washington County.
All of the indicators – from national unemployment numbers to job growth in our area – point to a very bright future indeed.
My staff and I work for the people of south Alabama. Let us know when we can be of service.
Jo Bonner represents Southwest Alabama in the U.S. House of Representatives.