To the editor:
An important indicator of the impact the virus has on the Mobile economy is the amount of personal income that local workers have to spend. A loss of income from a reduction in hours worked or a loss in a job lead to a reduction in family money to spend.
It is measured by multiplying the number of workers in an industry by the wages paid. It can be tracked monthly using the number of employees per industry in Mobile and the average wages paid.
The estimated money available to spend by the local workforce for January 2020 (prior to the virus impact) amounted to $839.5 million. The lowest income level of $788.4 million occurred in July and the latest published numbers, for November 2020 (after several months of shutdown), amounted to $819.0 million.
The July level of worker income was equal to income levels prior to 2010. The November level was equivalent to worker income in the 2016-17 period. The economy has improved considerably.
If wage levels have remained relatively constant over the past several years, any changes in worker income must have come in the number of workers. Between January and July, the local economy lost 11,400 total workers throughout all 10 industries using numbers published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Approximately 6,800 workers were hired back by November. Local firms have re-employed almost 60 percent of jobs lost earlier.
Between January and November, the interesting stories occur by specific industry. For example, Trade, Transportation and Utilities shows an increase in employees compared to declines shown in Education and Health Services, Professional and Business Activities, and several others. The products and services demanded by the public in each field and the employees required, especially in a pandemic, will be unique.
In sum, the level of employee personal income suffered a significant decline equivalent to levels not seen in this area for 10 years. The strength in the local economy lies in the fact that 60 percent of the employees lost in the last 11 months have been re-employed. Any shifts in employment from one industry to another would be seen in reviewing the current unique demand for products and services provided by each.
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