Layoff will hurt entire Black Belt

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 17, 2005


Today and for some time there will be a period of uncertainty for many in the area. Due to harsh economic conditions there are massive layoffs at Linden Lumber company, which was one of Marengo County’s largest employers. The layoffs leave many questions in their wake.

The biggest question for those who find themselves without a job is where to go from here. The job market in Marengo County is about to be flooded with people who are willing to work and work hard. Unfortunately, there are not enough jobs in the area to help them land on their feet.

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So where do they go from here? No one really knows. The odds are good that many will have to seek employment elsewhere.

It is ironic that on Sen. Richard Shelby’s Saturday visit he was very serious when he warned that foreign markets were well on their way to hurting American businesses. In some cases this is exactly what happened. Linden Lumber’s flooring business has long suffered from foreign markets who offered cheaper labor and products. This week we are seeing first hand what foreign markets can do to our economy.

The layoffs effect far more than Marengo County. Workers come from Greene, Hale, Choctaw and other areas seeking employment with Linden Lumber. The layoffs will be felt all over the Black Belt.

The layoffs also give us a clear picture of just how desperately we need more industry in Marengo County. Jobs were a problem before and now they are a serious problem. While there are several other large companies in the area such as Gulf States and Georgia Pacific, there is no guarantee there are job openings at either. As a matter of fact, both are likely employed to capacity right now.

The layoffs are going to effect more than just those losing jobs. Remember the one percent sales tax that was just put into effect? The tax was dependent on Marengo Countians spending money. With an estimated 150 or more people no longer able to do that at the level they had before these figures will drop as well. That means less money for schools, the hospital and cities. It also leaves less money for the county to repair and maintain roads as well as their many other functions.

To sum it up, we will all feel the pinch in one way or another from the layoffs. So where do we go from here? Only time will tell.