OOPS! Greater Birmingham going the wrong way!

Vulcan embarrassed--drawing by Adam Stermer
Vulcan embarrassed–drawing by Adam Stermer

I keep hoping our Birmingham region will do better economically, but a recent report is disappointing.

The prestigious Milken Institute  just released its 2018 annual report ranking of best performing cities.

This is a serious outcomes-based set of metrics such as job creation, wage gains, and technological developments—to evaluate the relative growth of metropolitan areas.

Many metros are thriving—but then there are others like the Birmingham-Hoover metropolitan area that can’t seem to keep up.

The 2018 Milken major city report ranked metropolitan Birmingham 165th out of 200 metros—but most concerning is that we were 159th in 2017. We dropped 6 places from the previous year.

Metro Birmingham’s rankings by component for major metros (Bibb, Blount, Chilton, Jefferson, St. Clair, Shelby, and Walker Counties)

  • Job Growth 2016-17 155th
  • Job Growth 2012-17 160th
  • Wage Growth 2015-16 151st
  • Wage Growth 2011-17 128th
  • 12 month Job Growth (8/2017-8/20/18) 128th
  • High Tech GDP Growth (2016-17) 140th
  • High Tech GDP Growth (2012-2017) 123rd
  • High Tech GDP Concentration 144th
  • Number of Industries with LO (2017) 136th

Here’s a ranking of some of our peer Southern cities

  • Austin 3rd
  • Raleigh 6th
  • Charlotte 13th
  • Charleston 16th
  • Nashville 25th
  • Jacksonville 26th
  • Spartanburg 28th

Even Chattanooga is ranked 67th. (Almost 100 cities ahead of Birmingham)

I sometimes think being in Alabama could be an impediment—but Huntsville disproves that theory.

In fact, Huntsville is one of the biggest gainers among large cities—moving up 27 places from 86th to 59th.

Huntsville rankings by component

  • Job Growth 2016-17 51st
  • Job Growth 2012-17 92nd
  • Wage Growth 2015-16 99th
  • Wage Growth 2011-17 151st
  • 12 month Job Growth (8/2017-8/20/18) 17th
  • High Tech GDP Growth (2016-17) 22nd
  • High Tech GDP Growth (2012-2017) 114th
  • High Tech GDP Concentration 8th
  • Number of Industries with LO (2017) 15th

And Huntsville is on a winning streak.

Senator Shelby announced last month that the FBI will likely invest $1 billion in Huntsville making it one of the FBI’s largest footprints outside Washington, D.C.

In the small metro rankings of best performing cities, Daphne-Fairhope-Foley came in at 11th and Auburn-Opelika ranked 19th.

What are we doing wrong in Birmingham?

The answer is included in the executive summary of the Milken report.

“…The top-performing metros have cohesive strategies that allow them to leverage their assets more effectively.”

But there are some renewed signs of life.  “According to a new analysis by Bloomberg, metro Birmingham ranked among the top markets where job growth over the past year is outpacing its 10-year average.”

Our political leaders are beginning to understand the importance of working together, but if we want to sustain that growth, it’s time for a comprehensive regional economic plan.

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).

Invite David to speak to your group about a better Birmingham. dsher@amsher.com

(Visited 2,377 times, 1 visits today)

2 thoughts on “OOPS! Greater Birmingham going the wrong way!”

  1. I’m not sure a significant amount of the population would agree with you (behind closed doors) about going the wrong way. After living here for 6 years, I am sensing there is significant amount of the population that harbors an acceptable ‘status quo’ mentality/posture toward most every aspect of life (government, culture, economy, etc.).

    Other than the biotech space and college football, I would not characterize many things here to reflect an ‘aspirational’ commitment or agenda (compared to what you see in other cities and metro areas).

    I also don’t believe the civic/gov. & economy/business leaders here are less competent or talented than their peers in ALL of these other cities. Dropping 6 places from the previous year takes a collective effort of all stakeholders – even if it’s the choice to not meet and deploy a strategy. While it’s a reverse and negative effort – it is what it is….and that’s what I don’t sense people are willing to come to terms with and accept.

    The interest to stymie growth or change is not uncommon and you see this reflected in Alabama culture when just 15 months ago a guy with the character of Roy Moore got nearly half, 48.3% of the vote. That’s 72% of voting White men and 62% of voting White women making a “reverse & negative” effort and declaring “we don’t want change, no matter how despicable the track record of our leaders”.

    You’re kidding yourself if you think think a ‘status quo’ mentality is not woven into the fabric of civic/gov. & economy/business leaders throughout Alabama including greater Birmingham.

  2. Try to engage in a discussion of what is right or wrong about the direction and priorities of the country. If you are trying to guess my preferred political party already, YOU are the problem. We are now a divided and contentious people.

    I have long puzzled why some regions are so conservative and some are so very opposite. I have concluded, for now, the the determinative factor is the desire for approval by one’s social group. If you are surrounded by people who hate the police and believe police are racial terrorists, you will not volunteer anything positive about police officers with people you value. Now take any political opinion you have and apply the same concept.

    Our desire for a supporting group is so strong that we may choose silence over being excluded from friends. This group think deprives is all of hearing the opposing ideas with openness and even changing our opinions if more informed. We even listen to “news” delivered in our favorite flavor.

    I suggest less social pressure and more willingness to listen, really listen, to learn and understand before condemning and withdrawing to group think. If you are sure you are right about an idea, listen to those who oppose respectfully and leave opinions that you cannot defend. use logic and conversation for your really great ideas and hold on to them even if shunned. Some things/ideas are worth holding on to and some deserve letting go. Be prepared to listen instead of resorting to comfortable group think. It is hard, but you can do it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *