I think about everybody knows the Coronavirus had a major impact on employment, not only in Decatur, but across the nation. As several sources have indicated, data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that job losses in the spring of 2020 were comparable to those of the Great Depression.
However, employment in the Decatur metro area has grown 2.5% since last year, but that still represents a 2.6% decrease since the start of the pandemic. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics analysis by Filterbuy, one of many perspectives on the economy, gave the following summary of the employment data for the Decatur metro area:
Percentage change in employment since 2021: +2.5%
Total change in employment since 2021: +1,200
Percentage change in employment since 2020: -2.6%
Total change in employment since 2020: -1,300
Current unemployment rate: 6.5%
For reference, here are the statistics for the entire United States:
Percentage change in employment since 2021: +4.5%
Total change in employment since 2021: +6,494,000
Percentage change in employment since 2020: -0.1%
Total change in employment since 2020: -81,000
Current unemployment rate: 3.6%
For more information, and complete results, you can find the original report on Filterbuy’s website: http://www.filterbuy.com/resources/cities-with-most-employment-growth
• COVID-19 UPTICK — THE Macon County Health Department announced at the end of last week that our county had moved up to the “Medium COVID-19 Community Level”.
MCHD stated: “Due to the recent uptick in cases, the CDC updated Macon County’s COVID-19 Community Level from low to medium. Weekly metrics used to determine the COVID-19 Community Level include the following: case rate per 100,000 population, new COVID-19 admissions per 100,000 population, and percent staffed inpatient beds in use by patients with confirmed COVID-19.
“Based on our current community level, it is recommended that individuals should:
• Stay up-to-date with their COVID-19 vaccines, including booster doses.
• Get tested if you have symptoms.
• Wear a mask if you have symptoms, have a positive COVID-19 test, or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.
• Wear a mask on public transportation.
• Consider wearing a mask indoors in public and take additional precautionary measures if you are at a high risk for severe illness.
• SOME community-level prevention strategies, according to the update, include:
• Protect people at high risk for severe illness or death by ensuring equitable access to vaccination, testing, treatment, support services, and information.
• Consider implementing screening testing or other testing strategies for people who are exposed to COVID-19 in workplaces, schools, or other community settings as appropriate.
• Implement enhanced prevention measures in high-risk congregate settings.
• Distribute and administer vaccines to achieve high community vaccination coverage and ensure health equity.
• Maintain improved ventilation in public indoor spaces. A person may choose to wear a mask at any time as an additional precaution to protect themselves and others.
• ALTHOUGH COVID-19 cases are surging across the nation, including Illinois, politicians aren’t sounding any alarm bell this time. That, despite the reality that the average number of new infections per day is four times what it was a year ago this week — and that’s not even counting home test kits with results that are usually not reported. Illinois counties in the northern part of our state, that were listed at a “medium” level two weeks ago, were moved into the “high” level last week.
Will Decatur and Macon County remain in the “medium” level or move into the “high” level of infections in the near future?
Why aren’t our politicians ringing alarm bells with the increase in COVID-19 infections? You know the answer to that — because it is an election year and it might affect their chances of being re-elected or elected. Mandating masks and vaccinations would have an impact at the polls. It’s sad when many (not all) of today’s politicians are more concerned about their “political health” than about “public health”.
• FOGGY HEAD? It was about as foggy as I’ve seen in driving to the office early Saturday morning. About all I could see were the red lights of the traffic signals at the intersection of Route 51 and Southside Drive. Even though the traffic signals were red, the driver in the car in front of me must have been “foggy-headed” because he (she) deliberately drove through two red lights as he headed across the bridge. That was really dangerous because he couldn’t see if anyone was coming through the intersection. As I’ve mentioned before in this column, a reckless driving variant seems to be present in a lot of drivers these days.
• I JOIN Brian Byers on WSOY’s “Byers & Co.” every Thursday morning at 7:00 for the “City Hall Insider”.