The Anniston/Oxford Metro has struggled over the past few years, mostly due to Fort McClellan shutting down and the job cuts at the Anniston Army Depot, BAE Systems, and other places. Now, I can honestly say that the Anniston/Oxford Metro is in serious and deep trouble! And there are several factors to look into when making a statement like this. First off, The Anniston Star had an article talking about the Anniston/Oxford area having the WORST unemployment spike in America for the last 12 months or one year. Over the past year, the unemployment rate has jumped to 7.8% in Calhoun County, (it was 6.8% in March 2013) and out of 372 metro areas in the United States, the Anniston/Oxford area is one of the worst places in America to find employment, the worst!
But that is not all my friends, over the last three years, the Anniston/Oxford metro area has seen the loss of nearly 2,000 people. Gee, I wonder why this area is losing thousands of people, that’s right, it’s because there are no jobs here! And earlier this year, the Milken Institute put out a list of 179 small metro areas in America based on economic performance. They said the Anniston / Oxford area is the second worst performing small metro area in America for 2013. This is not something I am making up, look at the picture below or click on the link to see for yourself.
And now, I have a couple of charts to show you documenting the destruction of the economy in the Anniston/Oxford metro. From the website called Department of Numbers, the first chart is the CES Employment Change. As you can see, from 2006 to today, most months have featured job losses.
And this chart shows the total employment from the Anniston/Oxford metro. According to the chart, CES employment for Anniston peaked in March 2007 at 53,700. Since then 8,600 jobs have been lost in Anniston. CPS employment reached a maximum of 53,442 for Anniston in March 2007. 7,872 jobs have been lost in Anniston since then. And if trend keeps going, more jobs are going to be lost and the chart below will continue to nosedive.
And if you are lucky to have a job in the Anniston/Oxford area, how much money are you making? Probably not a lot, because a 24/7 Wall Street report has said the Anniston/Oxford metro had a 2.4% drop in the average yearly wage, the WORST in America. Here is what the website said about this area.
No metropolitan area suffered a greater decline in average weekly wages as Anniston did in the fourth quarter of 2012. The public sector, which often pays higher wages than the private sector, declined 3% during that time. In addition, the number of jobs in trade, transportation and utilities declined by 4.2% during the year. Job cuts and wage reductions are likely to continue in the Anniston area in 2013 as the federal sequestration hits the Anniston Army Depot, which makes up a large share of the area’s workforce.
So, how do we fix the problems dragging down the Anniston/Oxford metro? For starters, the people needs to vote out the current people in the legislature like Del Marsh, and the person from the US House Representative Mike Rogers. Kind of ironic that a Republican stronghold is responsible for the worst economy in the United States. Second, leaders in this city from the chamber to the mayor and city councilmen needs to make recruiting jobs the only priority. With the charts saying the area has lost over 8,000 jobs, and only around 2,000 people have left the area. That means there are around 6,000 people out of work in Anniston/Oxford, I don’t know if the number is accurate, but there are thousands of people out of work in this area, that’s for sure.
And third, leaders in this metro area needs to listen to their citizens, and not just ignore them. For example, I have written about ideas to turn this metro around, and when I have gone to a mayor or other leader, I get passed up. People in this area has ideas to turn around this area and bring in jobs, the leaders just needs to listen to them. Because of the unemployment problems, many people, including me, are on some type of welfare program like food stamps or disability. And I don’t blame these people, because there is nothing here. This area can not survive on retail and fast food businesses, it can’t!
People are getting so frustrated they are escaping the Anniston/Oxford area to improve their lives. And for the folks like in the Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce, this area is not improving and jobs are not here. And let’s be honest, how long it will be before the Anniston Army Depot closes down and gets moved to another fort? Many people are afraid that the depot will close down because the chemical weapons are now gone, and the US Military is cutting back and consolidating their bases and depots. Let’s be real, Anniston, Oxford, and Calhoun County, this area is in deep trouble, and making Anniston an eco-friendly town is not going to save this area.
I have been saying this, and I will say this again, the Anniston/Oxford area needs new blood or leaders. For the folks who are unemployed in Anniston/Oxford, like me, who has been unemployed for three years and has filled out over 1,000 job applications, you will have to move on and leave Anniston/Oxford, there is no other choice. And for the ones who are barely surviving with a part-time or low wage job, you need to leave the Anniston/Oxford area as well, it’s your only choice. Unless you want to be on welfare for the rest of your life. Congratulations Anniston/Oxford, your metro area is worst than Detroit when it comes to the economy, let’s celebrate!
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