Birmingham embarrassed by another key national ranking

Crestline Village in Mountain Brook. One of many Jefferson County municipalities not in Birmingham
Crestline Village in Mountain Brook, one of many Jefferson County municipalities.

We in Birmingham should be growing weary.

Another national publication has punished Birmingham with a low ranking.

Our self-esteem drops and our reputation is damaged.

But this is ironic, because the ranking, like many others, is neither accurate nor fair.

24/7 Wall Street recently published an article titled the 50 Worst Cities to Live In.

Birmingham ranked 6th worst city in America.

Here’s how 24/7Wall Street described Birmingham…

“Birmingham’s median home value of $84,400 is roughly $100,000 less than the national median home value.  Low home values are often indicative of a poor population and a weak economy, and indeed, many area residents are struggling financially. The typical Birmingham household earns only $30,043 a year, and the city’s poverty rate of 30.5% is nearly double the national poverty rate.

Like many cities with pervasive poverty, Birmingham is a relatively dangerous place. The city’s violent crime rate of 1,588 incidents per 100,000 people is more than four times the national violent crime rate.”

Sounds pretty awful—but 24/7 Wall Street measured the City of Birmingham without its suburbs.  Surrounding municipalities like Mountain Brook, Vestavia Hills, Homewood, and Trussville were not included.

We are compared with other cities with their wealthier suburbs:

The City of Nashville includes all of Davidson County.

The City of Louisville includes all of Jefferson County.

The City of Jacksonville includes all of Duval County.

The City of Birmingham includes only the City of Birmingham—less than 1/3rd of the population of Jefferson County.

Nashville, Louisville, and Jacksonville have county-city governments.  The city and the county are the same.  Jefferson County Alabama includes 35+ municipalities.

No wonder income, property values, and crime appear to be grim in Birmingham.

The FBI publishes a detail annual report of dangerous crime statistics for American cities. Based on those numbers, Forbes ranks Birmingham as the 5th most dangerous.

Again the City of Birmingham is measured against broader geographic areas.

Birmingham is not even close to being one of the most dangerous cities in the U.S.

Number of violent crimes per FBI

  • Birmingham 3,163
  • Nashville 7,339
  • Memphis 10,336

Metropolitan Birmingham is actually safer than metropolitan Nashville.

I could easily make a case that Birmingham is one of the most livable cities in America.

But in the meantime, we’ll continue to be negatively measured and judged because we have divided ourselves into multiple competing governments.

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 Co-Founder 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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7 thoughts on “Birmingham embarrassed by another key national ranking”

  1. OK, so what’s the next step?  People are always talking about the need for this to happen, so let’s get a road map together.  Does it start in the suburbs, or Montgomery?

    1. *Thanks everyone for your positive responses.

      Remember a few years ago when most everyone thought Birmingham was doomed to failure? Well, that’s just not the case any more. We are on a roll!

      The same will be true with government structure. There is a concentrated effort going on now to research government structure in successful communities and see how we can apply to our region.

      Stay tuned. Good news is on the way!

  2. *”we’ll continue to be negatively measured and judged because we have divided ourselves into multiple competing governments.”

    Like this is going to change? The little people that run their little worlds have no interest in power sharing. That would translate into all kinds of positive sharing. God forbid in this God fearing part of the world

  3. *Excellent read. But how do we change this? I feel helpless when I read articles like this because I see (and feel) what we are missing out on as a county, but don’t know what actionable steps to take to change it.

  4. I have had the pleasure of visiting Birmingham numerous times over the past dozen years and absolutely love it. A hidden gem for sure.  After living in Raleigh, NC for ten years (most recently in 2007) I have witnessed the explosive growth and troubles that come with being on the “popular/best place lists”.

    Enjoy your city.  You are very fortunate. Embrace it for all that it is and the potential that it has. And don’t let some silly list dictate your happiness.

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