MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Tawni Roberts remembers all too well how difficult it was to be jobless for eight months.
“You can’t make ends meet. You go and apply for certain benefits programs,” said Roberts, who is the server manager for Patriots Grill in Montgomery.
Today, Roberts is gainfully employed at Patriots Grill, a new diner on the outskirts of Maxwell Air Force Base.
“Yes, I am very pleased,” said restaurant owner Mike Barnett.
Barnett says part of his decision to venture out in the service sector was based on his confidence in the economy. He is seeing it first-hand at Patriots Grill that’s barely two months old.
“I think where the unemployment rate is now... I think you’ve seen more money on the streets. They’ve earned money to spend it on meals or whatever they spend it on,” said Barnett.
One year ago today, the state jobless rate stood at 3.8 percent. Now it’s 2.7 percent, a clear sign companies are hiring and folks like Barnett felt good about taking a chance.
“I’m open to anything to grow my business,” Barnett said.
“I see more and more people each and every day,” said Roberts.
Put it another way, more than 80,000 Alabamians are working today compared to this time last year.
“I think people are getting comfortable,” said Don Dunkin, owner of All American Automotive and Tire on Madison Avenue in Montgomery.
Dunkin is feeling the good vibes as well but also admitted finding willing and qualified people to work has become a challenge, too.
“It’s mostly the starting positions," said Dunkin.
Dunkin has three locations in the River Region and employs nine at his Montgomery business.
No one questions the fact these are good economic times in Alabama. Mike Barnett and Don Dunkin just hope the economy doesn’t take an unexpected detour in 2020.
The latest numbers from the Alabama Department of Labor show the lowest jobless in the state can be found in Shelby County which stands at 1.8 percent. Wilcox County had the highest at 6.3 percent.