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Alabama bouncing back economically amid pandemic, according to CNN study

Updated: Mar. 23, 2021 at 6:32 PM EDT
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OPELIKA, Ala. (WTVM) - According to a CNN study, Alabama ranks 11th in the U.S. when it comes to how well its economy is recovering in the pandemic.

Local business owners and economic development officials said the East Alabama community seems to be bouncing back as well economically.

Like other small businesses, Opelika clothing store, Studio 3:19, felt the pandemic’s financial blow. Manager Emma Claire Dunnam said they had to get creative.

“We’re all trying to think of new ways to engage our customers,” she said. “Tiktok is a big thing right now. We’ve extended our plus size, so we have a lot more of that.”

Now, more than a year into the pandemic, Dunnam said the store is rebounding well.

“January has been our best month in the history of the store for Januarys,” she said.

According to new study, Alabama’s economy overall is also bouncing back from the pandemic. The state ranks 11th in the U.S. on CNN’s “Back-to-Normal” index, which analyzes factors like unemployment and hotel occupancy to see how the economy is returning to its pre-pandemic levels.

The city of Auburn’s economic development director, Phillip Dunlap said when it comes to manufacturing and industry, Auburn is recovering well too.

“By January 2021, we actually had more people working in our manufacturing base than we had in January 2020 before the pandemic,” he said.

Dunlap said the city is seeing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of investment for 2020 and 2021, from companies like Sio2 and Shinwa, which often means jobs.

“We’ve kept people working, and those payrolls have kept those families in pretty good shape,” Dunlap said.

Dunnam said she’s glad her state and her community are recovering.

“Alabama for sure is a place where people rally together,” she said. “You feel connected to each other. You feel more inclined to go help out a neighbor.”

According to CNN’s “Back-to-Normal” index, Alabama is operating at 91 percent of where was in early March 2020.

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