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Daily News Digest – October 18, 2021

Presented by the

Alabama League of Municipalities


Good morning!
Sad news to report: Former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Colin Powell has died.
Here’s your Daily News for Monday, October 18.



1. Despite low unemployment, state’s economy suffers from workforce participation slump

  • Alabama’s 3.1% unemployment rate is the lowest in the Southeast and among the lowest in the country. State leaders have repeatedly pointed to this impressive mark as a sign of the state’s economic recovery from the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw unemployment soar to nearly 14% last year.
  • Yet, employers across the state are struggling to find enough workers to fill jobs, forcing some to cut back business hours or production.
  • Why the economic disparity? It could have to do with the number of Alabamians actually participating in the workforce, a figure that has shrunk during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Alabama’s most recent labor force participation rate, which measures those who are working or seeking work, was 56.6% for August 2021, down slightly from the pre-pandemic level of 57.9% in August 2019, according to the Alabama Department of Labor. That represents about 31,490 people exiting the state’s workforce in a two year span.
  • State and industry leaders are starting to dig deeper into these numbers to figure out why there are so many unfilled jobs in the state.
  • Read the full feature story from Caroline Beck HERE.


2. Long-serving State Rep. Victor Gaston won’t seek reelection

  • State Rep. Victor Gaston, R-Mobile, the Speaker Pro Tem of the Alabama House of Representatives and one of the longest-serving members of the Legislature, will not seek reelection in 2022.
  • In an announcement Monday, Gaston said the timing was right to end his career in the Legislature and give others an opportunity to lead.
  • “Representing the citizens of west Mobile in the Alabama House has been my distinct honor and pleasure for the past 40 years, but the time has come to step off the public stage and pass the mantle of leadership to someone else,” Gaston said. “It is important to note that serving in this office for so many years was possible only because of the unconditional love, support, and commitment given to me by my late wife of 46 years, Jean, and my sons, Hank and George.”
  • First elected to the House in 1982, Gaston was one of only 11 Republicans – eight state representatives and three state senators – who served in the 140-member Alabama Legislature back then.
  • Praise and congratulations for a distinguished public service career came from Alabama’s top officials upon news of Gaston’s decision to retire, including Gov. Kay Ivey and Speaker Mac McCutcheon.
  • Read the full story HERE.





A message from the

Alabama League of Municipalities

  • Municipalities are the foundation of Alabama’s economy. The Alabama League of Municipalities was formed in 1935 and currently represents more than 450 member municipalities.
  • Year after year, the League works to secure legislation enabling all cities and towns to perform their functions more efficiently and effectively; offers specialized training for both municipal officials and employees; and conducts continuing studies of the legislative, administrative and operational needs, problems and functions of Alabama’s municipal governments.






3. FDA panel endorses booster shot for J&J COVID-19 vaccine

  • U.S. health advisers endorsed a booster of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine Friday, citing concern that Americans who got the single-dose shot aren’t as protected as those given two-dose brands.
  • J&J told the Food and Drug Administration that an extra dose adds important protection as early as two months after initial vaccination — but that it might work better if people wait until six months later. Unable to settle the best timing, the FDA’s advisory panel voted unanimously that the booster should be offered at least two months after people got their earlier shot.
  • “I think this frankly was always a two-dose vaccine,” said FDA adviser Dr. Paul Offit of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “It would be hard to recommend this as a single-dose vaccine at this point.”
  • The FDA isn’t bound by the recommendation as it makes a final decision — and adding to the debate’s complexity, new research also suggests that J&J recipients might have a stronger immune response if their booster dose is from a competing brand.
  • Read more HERE.




4. Crunch time: Biden, Dems face critical next 2 weeks for agenda

  • President Joe Biden is entering a crucial two weeks for his ambitious agenda, racing to conclude contentious congressional negotiations on a sweeping tax and spend plan.
  • Biden and his fellow Democrats are struggling to bridge intraparty divides by month’s end to pass a bipartisan infrastructure bill and a larger social services package. The president hopes to nail down both before Air Force One lifts off for Europe on Oct. 28 for a pair of world leader summits, including the most ambitious climate change meeting in years.
  • Biden is trying to stabilize his presidency after a difficult stretch marked by the tumultuous end of the Afghanistan war, a diplomatic spat with France and a surge in COVID-19 cases that rattled the nation’s economic recovery and sent his poll numbers tumbling.
  • West Wing officials are still optimistic that an agreement will ultimately be struck, but there are also fears that the messy, drawn-out negotiation has clouded the tangible benefits of what Biden aims to deliver to voters.
  • Full story HERE.


5. AP Top 25

  • Cincinnati moved up to No. 2 behind Georgia in The Associated Press college football poll Sunday, the first time a team from outside the traditional power conferences has been ranked that high since 2010.
  • The Bulldogs remained a unanimous No. 1 with 63 first-place votes. Oklahoma is No. 3, followed by Alabama and Ohio State.
  • Auburn has rejoined the Top 25 at No. 19.
  • Read more and see the full AP Top 25 HERE.




ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Despite low unemployment, state’s economy suffers from workforce participation slump


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Long-serving State Rep. Victor Gaston won’t seek reelection


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – FDA panel endorses booster shot for J&J COVID-19 vaccine


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Crunch time: Biden faces critical next 2 weeks for agenda


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Colin Powell has died of COVID-19 complications, family says


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Will Sellers: The Perpetual Winner


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – AP Top 25: Cincinnati up to No. 2; Purdue snaps poll drought


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Who’s running? 2022 Alabama House races update


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Biden open to trimming $3.5T spending plan


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – State school board prohibits teaching of Critical Race Theory


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Gina Maiola named Ivey’s Communications Director


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – New documentary examines life of Alabama native Helen Keller


AL.COM – John Meredith, son of Civil Rights icon, elected president of Huntsville council


AL.COM – Alabama to unveil monument to educators ‘lost to COVID’


AL.COM – Columnist Kyle Whitmire: Forget it, Texas. Alabama is still Best in Show


AL.COM – The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham evolves to statewide movement for Alabama women


AL.COM – Mo Brooks trails in Senate fundraising, blames special interest groups


AL.COM – Alabama school food shortages continue, state working on it ‘every day’


Montgomery Advertiser – State investigating shooting by Montgomery Police Department officer


Montgomery Advertiser – Auburn’s Coach Bruce Pearl to speak Oct. 21 at Frazer


Montgomery Advertiser – Fatal Montgomery County crash claims life of Luverne man on U.S. 331 North


Decatur Daily – Morgan Child Advocacy Center gives kids ‘safe place to talk about their abuse’


Decatur Daily – Homes along Sixth Avenue improving as city awaits streetscape plan


Decatur Daily – Causes of state labor shortage debated



Times Daily – State’s economy suffering from labor shortage


Times Daily – Pump donation will help Alabama Forestry Commission


Times Daily – Registration open for Nov. 6 fiber art workshop


Anniston Star – Piedmont City School System might teach experts a thing or two


Anniston Star – Veterans of Chemical Battalion and Company enjoy their first-ever reunion


Anniston Star – Lobsterfest returns with curbside delivery only


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Doctors say masks still needed this Halloween


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – UPDATE: Arrest made in deadly shooting of 13-year-old boy in Tuscaloosa


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Hospital conditions improving, but patients may still see some delays


Tuscaloosa News – Mercedes seeking hundreds of new workers for Tuscaloosa, Bibb county plants


Tuscaloosa News – 50th Annual Kentuck Festival of the Arts took a community-wide effort


Tuscaloosa News – Bonfire, parade will return as University of Alabama celebrates homecoming


YellowHammer News – UAH, Spelman College join in research to improve air quality monitoring


YellowHammer News – Alabama’s ULA successfully launches exploration mission for NASA


YellowHammer News – State Health Officer Harris on possible anti-vaccine mandate legislation: ‘Don’t want to send a message that we need to protect Alabamians from being vaccinated’


Gadsden Times – Motorcycle crash in DeKalb County claims life of woman


Gadsden Times – St. James Catholic School to host 34th $10,000 Give-A-Way


Gadsden Times – Mueller shooting aftermath: Public meeting slated about distribution of survivor funds


Dothan Eagle – Betty Lynn, Thelma Lou on ‘The Andy Griffith Show,’ has died


Dothan Eagle – World shares mostly lower as Chinese growth data disappoints


Dothan Eagle – New technology offers anonymous way to report abuse, doping


Opelika-Auburn News – Crunch time: Biden faces critical next 2 weeks for agenda


Opelika-Auburn News – Some protesters have broken into flame lighting site in Ancient Olympia to protest China’s hosting of 2022 Winter Games


Opelika-Auburn News – Indonesia, Malaysia concerned about Australia’s nuclear subs


WSFA Montgomery – Flag retirement ceremony closes out Alabama National Fair


WSFA Montgomery – UPDATE: Arrest made in deadly shooting of 13-year-old boy in Tuscaloosa


WSFA Montgomery – Alabama National Fair implements new attendance policy


WAFF Huntsville – Remembering Dr. Richard Showers


WAFF Huntsville – Huntsville Police Department honors fallen officers


WAFF Huntsville – Lawrence County woman hospitalized after brutal Pit bull attack


WKRG Mobile – UPDATE: Arrest made in barricade situation in Baldwin County


WKRG Mobile – UK prime minister to lead tributes for murdered lawmaker


WKRG Mobile – Protestors disrupt flame lighting for Beijing Winter Games


WTVY Dothan – Investigation underway after shooting, fatal car crash in Houston County


WTVY Dothan – Child, two others shot; police plead for information


WTVY Dothan – Betty Lynn, ‘Andy Griffith Show’ cast member, dies at 95


WASHINGTON POST – Ahmaud Arbery’s killing changed his Georgia community. Now three men will stand trial for murder.


WASHINGTON POST – In allied capitals, a nuanced, cautious view of Biden


WASHINGTON POST – Fauci urges police officers to get vaccinated as union protests heat up


NEW YORK TIMES – Threats, Resignations and 100 New Laws: Why Public Health Is in Crisis


NEW YORK TIMES – China’s Economy Continues to Slow, Rattled by Real Estate and Energy


NEW YORK TIMES – As Rents Rise, So Do Pressures on People at Risk of Eviction


WALL STREET JOURNAL – China Faces Slower Growth Path as It Pursues Longer-Term Reforms


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Members of Congressional Committee Question Whether Amazon Executives Misled Congress


WALL STREET JOURNAL – GOP Sees Opening as Biden Copes With Pre-Christmas Inflation, Supply-Chain Issues



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