The Alabama Surprise

Michael Mandel

Out of the six states with record low unemployment rates in the previous post, the most surprising (to my mind) was Alabama (okay, so shoot me as a parochial northerner).

So I looked up a few numbers on the state, and I saw that Alabama actually added (!) automotive sector jobs (!!) in 2005, on the strength of the Mercedes, Honda, and Hyundai plants in Alabama, and the supplier networks surrounding them.

Then I called up Carl Ferguson, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Alabama, to get the straight scoop about the state. He pointed out that the supplier networks "had touched a significant number of Alabama's counties." As a result, "most of our metro areas are at full employment. It is absolutely a seller's market. There's more jobs going wanting than ever in the past."

I asked Carl for more details on why Alabama was doing so well. He listed several reasons, including location and good infrastructure. He also pointed out that the state had put a lot of emphasis on education, and making itself a place where people would want to live. "The cultural and social amenities that white collar workers and executives expect, you can find here now."

It's good to see a place which is able to compete on a global basis. I may do more about Alabama.

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