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Welcome news at Christmastime

With Christmas staring us firmly in the face, the State of Alabama received some welcome news yesterday: More and more people are finding work.

On the local level, more than 100 fewer people filed for unemployment assistance in November compared to the month before.

It may not seem like much but this is a welcome and much-deserved early Christmas present.

Unemployment statistics released Friday represent the first rate decrease in more than two years, a sign that a once-weakened economy is recovering.

If you really look closely, those stats reveal a little more than a small recovery. I think they show that the proverbial worst may be over.

In speaking to many local retailers, holiday shoppers are buying a little more this year compared to last. That’s good news for the stores and it’s also an indication that discretionary spending is beginning to creep back up.

That’s not to say our local economy is where it could be. The conversations I referenced above were tempered; a “good but it could be better” type scenario.

However, that key economic indicators are on the increase is a very good sign.

Many of the people with whom I have spoken are in the restaurant business. They reported that corporate Christmas parties, which were canceled or minimized last year – a time when the economy was bottoming out – are back on this year.

That, too, is a good sign.

Many of the things we once took for granted – like a forgotten $20 bill found in our winter coat pockets and the office Christmas party – are beginning to return. It may not seem like much, but it’s been a tough two years. Weathering the storm has not been easy, nor has it been fun.

However, these signs of promise and brighter days could not come at a better time.

Since my next column will not publish until the day after Christmas, I would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas. May your stockings be full and your holiday meals bountiful.

I look forward to seeing what the New Year has in store for us all.

Jason Cannon is publisher of the Demopolis Times.