Unemployment and gas prices down; could the economy be looking up?

Chamber Update

Last month we wrote about the positive and negative signs as they relate to our struggling economy.

The numbers released this past week by the Labor Department and the steady decline in gas prices would lead us to believe that good things are just around the corner for our local economy.

The unemployment rate in Blount County dropped to 5.8 percent in April, from a rate of 6.6 percent in March. A year ago, our unemployment rate was 8 percent. In 2011, our annual average unemployment rate was 8.3 percent which tied us with six other counties for ninth-best in Alabama. Our current level of 5.8 percent ranks fifth-best in our state for the lowest unemployment rate.

Gas prices have fallen, as well. One month ago, area gas prices were averaging $3.72 per gallon. Today, they are at $3.39 per gallon. And as we have stated before, with our large commuter population, gas prices are extremely important to our local economy. We can only hope prices continue to fall, leaving more money in the pockets of Blount County workers.

Combine these developments with two more grand openings in the county, an industrial expansion, a small industry addition coming soon, and retail/restaurant talks moving in a positive direction in west Blount, and we have every reason to be encouraged.

If you are a business owner and know of anything the Chamber of Commerce can help you with, please do not hesitate to call us. If you are interested in starting a new business or relocating your business to Blount County, call our office. We will be glad to assist you with things such as advertising, marketing, small business counseling, small business financing, tax advantages/exemptions, site location, etc.

Helping make our “HOME” an even better place to live, with the belief that our best days are ahead of us, we are your Blount-Oneonta Chamber of Commerce.

Chamber Director Donny Ray holds an economics degree from The University of Alabama.