The hole in Jefferson County no one seems to know about

Where are they?

At first I thought they had moved to surrounding counties—and some did, but that’s not the hole story.

It’s common knowledge that Jefferson County’s population is stagnant—but I got curious about the details.

According to the 2010 Census, Jefferson County lost .5% of its population from 2000-2010– 662,047 to 658,466.

Not a big deal –we only lost 3,581 people.

But then I found the hole.

What happened to our 35 to 44 year olds?–the age when many families grow in wealth and settle down.

Jefferson County lost 19.4% of its 35-44 olds.  That’s about one in five.

But the harm is not just to Jefferson County—we lost substantial numbers of 35 to 44 year olds metropolitan wide.  (7 counties—Bibb, Blount, Chilton, Jefferson, Shelby, St. Clair, and Walker)

Our metro area is losing the heart of our population while other cities prosper.

Population gains/losses 35-44 year olds  U.S Census Data 2010 

  • Raleigh Metro 26.2%
  • Austin Metro 22.6%
  • Charlotte Metro 21.0%
  • Atlanta Metro 10.1%
  • Nashville Metro 2.3%
  • Birmingham Metro-9.7%

Why have we done so poorly?

Maybe it’s because of the Jefferson County bankruptcy, the numerous County Commissioners that were convicted, or the sewer fee increases?   However, the Jefferson County bankruptcy was November 9, 2011.  The bankruptcy, convictions, and sewer debacle all occurred after the Census numbers were published.  We lost our 35-44 year olds during the ten years prior.

What’s wrong with Jefferson County?

  •  35+ municipalities within Jefferson County competing with one another.
  • No executive branch of government with the necessary balance of power.
  • 5 County Commissioners elected by district—no one elected county-wide.
  • Major County financial decisions made by State Legislature—can’t hold Commissioners accountable. (no home rule)

Everyone knows we are losing our young folks—but what about our solid middle?

Don’t you think it’s time to fix our scrabbled government?

Let’s turn Birmingham around.  Click here to sign up for our newsletter.  There’s power in numbers. (Opt out at any time)

David Sher is the publisher of ComebackTown, a co-founder of Buzz12, a division of Intermark Group, and co-CEO of AmSher Compassionate Collections.  He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).


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3 thoughts on “The hole in Jefferson County no one seems to know about”

  1. David,

    Nice find!  Thanks for identifying such a significant “hole” in our community!  As an accountant I could not wait to calculate the numbers.  If you take 19.4% of the low population number, 658,466, there is an astounding 127,652 missing wage earners at the age 35-44.  When you apply a nominal average wage earnings of $50,000 per year to the missing 127,652 that turns into a whopping $6.382 BILLION dollars per year NOT in our local Jefferson county regional economy.  Over ten years, over $63,000,000,000 dollars!  This is the direct result of employers leaving and the Fortune 500 business core that we once had and is now vacated.  One BIG $63 BILLION FINANCIAL HOLE indeed just in Jefferson county!  Sad indeed!

  2. *Nothing happens unless you make it happen! 

    Growing a city requires  a corp of ultra dedicated men and women!

    Some years ago Birmingham was blessed with that type of leadership! They pushed hard

    for economic & cultural growth…including making a change in government to guarantee fair 

    and progressive leadership. That was 65 years ago. 


  3. *You are spot on. Political leadership that is does not address problems with a view of what benefits the whole,but only their much smaller constituency is incapable of solving area wide problems.  Until the business leaders can come to a concensus on addressing our problems and utilize the pulpit of economic strength we will continue to drift. A County Commission with four elected districts and the President of the Commission elected at large would be a good place to start. 

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