Closer look at job statistics

Published 10:16 pm Tuesday, April 18, 2017

By James G. Smith
The Selma Times-Journal

There are some in Selma who are working diligently to make this a better place for all its residents. They work tirelessly and often times without any recognition for their efforts. I recently had the opportunity to sit down and discuss some issues with one of these Selma and Dallas County heralders.  It is not my nature to go around singling out individuals for accolades, other than first responders and veterans, but this is one I am delighted to do so.

In my opinion, a lot of credit is due Wayne Vardaman, president Selma-Dallas County Centre for Commerce,  for the job he is doing for Selma and Dallas County. He eats, sleeps, walks and talks Selma, and on top of that, he loves this place. Vardaman is guilty of selling Selma and Dallas County each and every day to any and all who will listen. In fact, I think you could rightfully call him Mr. Selma. Although beginning to gray around the temples, he shows no other signs of slowing down. In fact, quite the contrary, he says there are things he still wants to accomplish. We are truly blessed having this super salesman on the job.

Email newsletter signup

It is rather easy to look at the unemployment numbers and question the availability of jobs. I am guilty of it quite often, but there are unseen factors affecting these numbers. Upon closer examination of several factors, Selma and Dallas County is doing quite well. For instance, we have four industrial parks here, Bell Road, Craig Field, Selfield and South Dallas. There are 28 large and 13 smaller manufacturer and distributor companies for a total of 41 operating within our domain. I would say most residents, including myself, are not aware of the number and diversity of the companies in our area.

According to a recent study made available to our local EDA office by the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama (EDPA), Dallas County stood up well when compared to a sampling of 10 other counties. Dallas County was fourth highest in jobs and manufacturing establishments. Dallas actually beat out three counties with higher populations. Another factor of importance is the number of people outside Dallas County coming in each day to work. Without getting into specific numbers, and they are substantial, workers are making the trek in and out of Selma and Dallas County each day to jobs. These workers are not counted in Dallas County’s favor when calculating the unemployment numbers. Therefore, it appears to me the unemployed here are competing for jobs with people from outside the county for the available jobs. Jobs are usually filled by the best prepared and qualified person available at the time. Perhaps it would behove Dallas County residents to better prepare themselves for the type jobs available here. In conclusion, given the situation as it is, the tax base would be enhanced and the unemployment numbers would be much lower if all the people who work here, lived here.