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Birmingham has the second lowest unemployment rate in the country! Photo via Matthew Niblett for Bham Now
Birmingham received praise in a major national newspaper this weekend. The Wall Street Journal published on Saturday, August 7th, Welcome to Birmingham, Alabama, one of the closest labor markets in the US. The article describes Birmingham’s impressive economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Read on for the highlights.
Birmingham blows away the competition
Birmingham’s economy has diversified since its time as the hub of the steel industry. Photo via Pat Byington for Bham Now
The Birmingham area’s June unemployment rate was lower than the tech boomtowns of California and Texas.
In June, Birmingham had the second lowest unemployment rate in the country. The Bureau of Labor Statistics report examined unemployment rates in all metropolitan areas with over a million people. The only city that overtook Birmingham was Salt Lake City, Utah.
Birmingham is a great place to live and work. Photo via Nathan Watson for Bham Now
The Birmingham Underground had an unemployment rate of 3.1% in June, which is almost half the national average. That’s also close to pre-pandemic levels of 2.4% in Birmingham in February 2020.
The Wall Street Journal attributed the low unemployment rate in The Magic City to a number of factors.
“Economists say the city’s diversified economy, Alabama’s relatively loose Covid-19 restrictions, and resilient consumer behavior have helped the regional economy recover – and, as in other parts of the south, potentially related the impact of the surge in cases Can survive better with the Delta Variant of Covid-19. “
Bryan Mena, journalist, The Wall Street JournalThe Magic City is recovering quickly. Photo via Pat Byington for Bham Now
Birmingham’s industry has helped the city recover. Once a steel center, Magic City now largely relies on healthcare, finance, telecommunications, and education.
“The fact that our economy is less dependent on tourism and hospitality is part of our strength. The fact that we also have so many local businesses that can decide when to bring workers back helped our recovery.
Ron Kitchens, CEO, Birmingham Business Alliance (BBA)Go blazers! Photo by Libby Foster for Bham Now.
The Wall Street Journal also reported that the UAB did not lay off any workers during the pandemic. UAB employs 23,000 people in Birmingham, mostly in their medical centers.
Challenges of low unemployment
Companies looking for employees face unique challenges in Birmingham’s tight market.
Tropicaleo is temporarily closed due to a labor shortage. Photo via Jacob Blankenship for Bham Now
Bham Now reported in June that Birmingham favorites like Tropicaleo had to close their doors due to staff shortages.
Ron Kitchens, the CEO of the Birmingham Business Alliance, believes there will be an ongoing labor shortage.
“There will be a shortage of newcomers and employees in the hospitality industry for the next ten years. Not because of COVID, but because the baby boomers are retiring. As a nation, we are currently barely on the replacement rate for workers. “
Ron Kitchen, CEO, Birmingham Business Alliance (BBA)The food workers in the south are also struggling to recruit staff. Photo via Unsplash
In a tight labor market like Birmingham’s, many companies pay higher wages to recruit workers. The BBA’s Ron Kitchens believes these pay hikes are likely to raise prices in restaurants and grocery stores.
Associated Grocery Workers of the South, based in Birmingham, increased wages by $ 3 an hour with the option of a hiring bonus. They are still struggling to hire and retain workers, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The Essential struggles to stay full. Photo by Jacob Blankenship for Bham Now
Meanwhile, The Essential gets creative. Downtown restaurant employees receive a bonus when a worker they recruit completes restaurant training.
It is still unclear which recruiting strategies are most effective. It is clear, however, that young professionals are no longer a matter of course.
In conclusion, the Wall Street Journal article is a compelling nod to Birmingham’s growth. As more jobs are created in The Magic City, benefits and wages may need to be increased to meet demand.
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