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.
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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. firstname.lastname@example.org