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Sunday Discussion: The Troubling Alabama Jobs / GDP Picture

Geek Alabama Discussion

So as some of you may know, I have been on the never-ending job search for the last 27 months now.  I have filled out nearly 450 job applications and have been to 14 job fairs.  I now even have some people helping me find something while I do some janitorial work for four hours a day.  While I am optimistic that I will find something in Alabama, a report from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis then comes out.

From the report, the Anniston-Oxford-Jacksonville metro area’s real gross domestic product fell 0.9 percent in 2012 after falling 1.4 percent in 2011. The back-to-back drops in GDP indicate the area slipped into a recession like much of the rest of the state in 2012.  The statistics also show that of the country’s 381 metropolitan areas, Calhoun County ranked 346 in terms of weakest GDP in 2012, meaning 35 metro areas had a larger decrease in their GDP.  Calhoun County was also the worst metro area in Alabama for GDP.  Why am I not surprised about this?  The county has been shedding jobs left and right for the last five years and over 1,000 people have moved out of the county since 2012.

And this stat is the most troubling.  Only four Alabama metro areas saw gains in their GDP in 2012, including Birmingham-Hoover at 3.8 percent, Florence-Muscle Shoals at 1.4 percent, Auburn-Opelika at 0.9 percent and Decatur at 0.9 percent.  All eight of the Alabama metro areas that saw a decline in GDP in 2012 had a similar decline in 2011.  This map below from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis shows the Real GDP by metropolitan area for all of 2012.  The news is bad for Alabama, notice most of the metro areas in Alabama had negative GDP growth for 2012.  If you took out the Birmingham Metro, Alabama would be one of the worst states in the country for GDP and jobs in 2012.  For 2013, the job picture has not gotten better for Alabama.

gdpma_0913

Earlier this month, International Paper announced they would lay off 1,100 people by the middle of 2014 with layoffs beginning right before Christmas.  The closure of the plant in Northwest Alabama could impact up to 2,000 more jobs in the area as well.  When a major layoff is being announced, you would think the political leaders would do everything in their powers to either stop the layoffs or bring in another industry.  But Courtland Mayor Clarence Logston said “We’ve got to turn it over to the Lord”, you think God has a plan for the workers who are about to suffer, seriously?

When you look at that map above, there are areas in America that are doing well.  States like Texas, Utah, Tennessee, Indiana, Ohio, Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Iowa, and other states are doing great with GDP and jobs.  By the way, most of those states are red Republican states.  So if red states like Texas and Utah are growing jobs and GDP, why is Alabama falling so far behind?  Yes, Alabama is a deep red state with strong Republican and Tea Party beliefs.  But where are the jobs and GDP growth?

Yes, there has been some job announcements in some areas in Alabama like Auburn, Mobile, and Birmingham.  But even Mobile had negative GDP growth in 2012, that’s not good.  So with all of this information to digest, what does it mean for me?  For starters, my chances for finding in job in East Alabama are almost non-existent.  This area has suffered from thousands of textile and military jobs being cut.  Some new jobs have come in the form of retail and fast-food.  But it is not even a drop in the bucket for the unemployed.  Food banks in Anniston have already helped the same amount of people in all of 2012, with three months left in 2013.  And the career centers are a joke.

I guess my job search is now going national again.  The jobs and GDP situation in Alabama is not too good right now.  I wish our legislature would focus on creating and bringing new jobs to Alabama and helping the poor getting out of poverty instead of threatening to cut food stamps, raising fees, cutting taxes for the rich, and embarrassing the state of Alabama with stupid stories.  For example, Sen. Shadrack McGill said that keeping teacher salaries low is actually an order from the Christian deity figure, imparted in ancient texts written by Jewish tribesmen thousands of years ago.  And Sen. Arthur Orr wants to introduce a bill to deny welfare benefits until you have applied to three jobs.  All while Alabama has the longest and oldest constitution in the world and cities and counties have to go through the legislature to get simple things done like raising taxes or bringing in new industries.

Sometimes, you just have to sit back and laugh at the problems going on in Alabama.